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Groups urge SC to act on attacks against rights lawyers and clients

Human rights and civil society organizations petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) to take urgent action against threats, red-tagging and killings of judges and lawyers as well as their clients.

In a letter to the SC Tuesday, May 18, Karapatan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advance of Government Employees said the attacks against court officers continue despite clear condemnation by the High Court last March 23.

Addressed to Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, the petition said the “attacks against human rights lawyers violate the basic principle that lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”

The groups said that attacks against the lawyers and judges deprive them of effective access to legal services and adequate protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The letter reminded the Court that there have been 147 reported attacks against court officers in recent years.

Eighty-four or 57% of the victims are human rights lawyers affiliated with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Public Interest Law Center, Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and the Free Legal Assistance Group, the petition said.

In its March 23 statement, the SC acknowledged that members of the bar and the bench have been attacked and asked the lower court to submit reports on the matter.

The SC statement also came after NUPL member Angelo Karlo Guillen was stabbed with a screw driver on his lower left temple and back by two unidentified assailants in Iloilo City.

“The court condemns in the strongest sense every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed, and where a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled. We do not and will not tolerate such acts that only perverse justice, defeat the rule of law, undermine the most basic of constitutional principles, and speculate on the worth of human lives,” the SC said.


‘State sponsored’

In their submission, the signatories also asked the Court look into the attacks suffered by the lawyers’ clients “and to understand the overarching government policies that cause them.”

The signatories asserted that the lawyers who represent activists, human rights defenders and ordinary people also become targets of the government’s counterinsurgency drive.

“An urgent and decisive action from the Supreme Court is a matter of life and death for activists and human rights defenders especially now when we are being increasingly targeted in the government’s counterinsurgency and counterterror campaign for our work and causes,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, one of the signatories, said.

“Despite the Supreme Court en banc’s much-needed statement two months ago, we are concerned that the attacks have only continued, if not worsened to even more alarming forms.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Protesta inilunsad sa pagsisimula ng oral arguments kontra terror law

Nagsama-sama ang iba’t-ibang grupo na tutol sa RA 11479 o ang Anti-Terrorism Act sa Padre Faura sa Maynila ilang oras bago simulan ang oral arguments nito sa Korte Suprema, Pebrero 2.

Kaugnay ito sa 37 petisyon kontra sa nasabing batas na ayon sa mga aktibista ang pinakamaraming petisyon sa kasaysaysan ng mga batas sa Pilipinas.

Mariin nilang tinututulan ang terror law at sinabi na malaking banta ito sa pagpapahayag ng mamamayan laluna sa paglaban ngayon sa tiraniya.

Pahayag ng Migrante International kaugnay sa kaso ni Mary Jane Veloso

Nagbigay-pahayag si Joanna Concepcion, tagapangulo ng Migrante International kaugnay sa naging pinal na desisyon ng Korte Suprema na payagang makapagbigay testimonya si Mary Jane Veloso sa pamamagitan ng written deposition.

Tuluyang ibinasura ng Korte Suprema noong Agosto 15 ang apela ng mga rekruter ni Veloso na sina Ma. Cristina Sergio at Julius Lacanilao. Ito ay kaugnay sa kasong illegal recruitment, human trafficking at estafa.

Si Veloso ay kasalukuyang pa ring nakakulong sa Indonesia simula 2010 dahil sa kasong ilegal na droga.

‘Mabigat sa dibdib ko’

“Mabigat sa dibdib ko, nakita ko kasi ang anak ko. Kaya nananawagan po ako sa Supreme Court. Ibaba niyo po ang desisyon para makasama na niya ang anak niya.”Marites Asis, Ina ng bilanggong pulitikal na si Reina Mae Nasino

Mother appeals to SC to act on petition to free at-risk political prisoner and baby

Political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino’s mother Marites De Asis appealed to the Supreme Court to act on the petition to release the at-risk prisoner and her newly-born baby during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nasino delivered her first born baby last July 1 in a hospital and was sent back to jail the following day.

De Asis reminded the High Court that it has been three months since she filed the petition for the liberty of her daughter.

The group Families and Friends of Political Prisoners (KAPATID) tied blue ribbons in front of the Supreme Court along Padre Faura Street in Manila last July 7 to demand for Nacino’s and her baby as well as 22 others political prisoners they said are vulnerable to infection with the virus.

Health advocates file petition for mass testing

By Joseph Cuevas

Health professionals, workers and women filed a petition before the Supreme Court last Friday, July 3, asking the executive branch to implement mass testing and provide accurate and reliable data to the people on the coronavirus 19 or Covid-19.

Citing the people’s right to health under the Philippine Constitution,  the petition for a writ of mandamus shall compel the Department of Health and other agencies to conduct pro-active mass testing, aggressive contract tracing and effective isolation, and treatment of Covid-19 positive cases to contain the spread of the virus.

The 74-page petition was filed by Citizens’ Urgent Response to End Covid-19 (CURE COVID) spokesperson Judy Taguiwalo; Coalition for the People’s Right to Health convenor Dr. Joshua San Pedro; Bahaghari bational spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas; Migrante International chairperson Joanna Celeste Concepcion; GABRIELA Network of Professionals secretary general Lovely Ramos; Drug, Food and Allied Workers Federation-Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Debie Faigmani; BPO Industry Employees Network president Mylene Cabalona; Alliance of Concerned Teachers-National Capital Region Union president Vladimer Queta; UP-Pantranco Driver’s Association vice-president Ernesto Lizada; homemaker Marites Arboleda; and K-12 student Via Leigh Hernandez.

The petition is seeks “accurate, timely and complete information with regards to Covid-19 situation including onset of symptoms, history of exposure, co-morbidities, whether the subject is a medical frontliner, data when specimen is collected and actual case validation backlog from the government.”

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, counsel of the petitioners, said that the omission of proactive and efficient mass testing amid the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a systemic and normalized violation of the right to health engenders the impairment of other human rights and liberties, such as the rights to travel, livelihood or work, education, and access to justice

In a statement, CURE COVID pointed out that many health experts said that mass testing is very important in the country’s response to the pandemic.

Mass testing enables countries to identify the extent of the virus’ transmissions among the populace, the group said.

It added that with honest and prompt information, governments can systematically and scientifically trace, isolate and treat the infected and contain the transmission.

“Unfortunately, the [Rodrigo] Duterte administration has fallen very short of doing this. Last April 3, retired general Carlito Galvez, chief implementor of the National Task Force on Covid-19 (NTF Covid), announced that the government will implement mass testing by April 15. This obviously did not happen, as the number of testing needed to ascertain the extent of Covid-19 transmissions has consistently fallen short of the NTF’s very own targets,” CURE COVID added.

The group also said instead of mass testing, tracing, isolation and treatment, the government heavily relied on a militarist response to the pandemic, putting the country under the world’s longest lockdown that resulted to abuses, unnecessary restrictions and undue curtailment of civil liberties.

According to the health department, 38,805 have been infected that resulted in 1,274 recorded deaths as of Friday. #

Kaanak at tagasuporta, nanawagang payagang mag-testimonya si Mary Jane Veloso

Nagsagawa ng press conference ang mga kaanak, abugado at taga-suporta ni Mary Jane Veloso para magbigay ng update kaugnay sa deposition testimony niya sa Indonesia.

Kamakailan ay pinayagan ng Korte Suprema na magbigay ng deposition si Veloso mula sa kanyang piitan sa Indonesia. Ayon sa kanyang abugado, malaking bagay ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema para mapatunayang biktima ng human trafficiking si Veloso.

Nagpasalamat ang ama ni Mary Jane na si Cesar sa mga abugado at grupong patuloy na tumutulong sa kanyang anak. Hangad niya na makalaya na si Mary Jane at makapiling ang kanyang mga anak.

Nakatakda sa Oktubre 28 sa Cabanatuan RTC ang huling pagdinig ng prosekusyon laban sa mga illegal recruiter ni Veloso na sina Maria Kristina Sergio at Julius Lacanilao.

Si Veloso ay nakakulong sa Indonesia nang mahigit siyam na taon sa kasong pagpuslit ng ilegal na droga at nahatulan ng death penalty. Subalit noong 2015 ay ipinatigil ng gobyerno ng Indonesia ang pagbitay sa kanya matapos mahuli sa Pilipinas ang mga recruiter ni Veloso. (Music: News Background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

‘Ninakaw na sa atin ang lahat-lahat’

“Napakasaklap na sa bansang ito ang mismong paggamit ng sariling wika—pagsasalita, pagsusulat—ay isang anyo ng protesta. At ngayon, ipinagkakait na pati ang pag-aaral ng wika at ng yaman at hiwaga ng panitikan. Ninakaw na sa atin ang lahat-lahat.”–Mayette Bayuga, manunulat

‘Pinapatay ang wikang Filipino’

“Ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema at CHED na patayin ang wikang Filipino sa kurso ng General Education ay walang iba kundi ang pagtalima sa neoliberalismong patakaran tulad ng globalisasyon at internationalization ng rehimeng Duterte. Bahagi ng labor export policy, ninanais nilang sanayin tayo sa lenggwahe ng mga makapangyarihang bansa upang epektibo taong makapag-lingkod sa kanila.”—Neil Doloricon, tagapangulo ng CAP

Kung isasantabi ang wika

“Ang wika ay isang simbolo ng iyong matayog na pinanggagalingan. Kung ito ay isantabi natin, malamang wala tayong patutunguhan bilang mamamayan. Ipagbunyi, mahalin, yakapin, pagyamanin ang sariling atin.”—Bayang Barrios, mang-aawit