In this photo taken April 15, members and supporters of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers troop to the Supreme Court in Manila ahead of their filing of a petition seeking protection from alleged threats of state agents.
Facebook/National Union of Peoples' Lawyers
NUPL laments loss of 'legal remedy' to protect them vs perceived state harassment
( - July 18, 2019 - 3:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers lamented the Court of Appeals’ ruling that denied the group’s plea for temporary protection order against what they claim is state harassment.

The special 15th division of the Court of Appeals junked the NUPL’s plea for temporary protection order as it said that there is “no basis” to grant the relief.

The appeals court noted that the Supreme Court already granted the lawyers’ group plea for writ of amparo and it does not see a need to issue a TPO.

But the NUPL said: “While significant, the writ only mandated the respondents to answer (“make a return”) the Petition. That is precisely why the SC ordered the CA to conduct hearings to determine whether or not the privilege will be granted.”

The lawyers’ group pointed out that the TPO, the issuance of which the CA denied, can be granted “at any time before final judgment.”

The CA held a hearing on their plea for writ of amparo on Thursday afternoon.

The NUPL filed a petition for a writ of amparo as they said that their rights to life, liberty and security have been violated by "persistent threats and harassment, and red-tagging," preventing them from carrying out their profession as members of the bar.

The writ of amparo pertains to the protection by the highest tribunal extended to petitioners where threats to their life, liberty and security emanate from the military, police and other state security forces.

READ: NUPL seeks court protection from 'threats' by state agents

The NUPL also said that their reading of the rules do not compel them, at the point of the court proceedings, to provide the names for the TPO, or give the names of the members. “That can come as a matter of course,” they said.

The lawyers’ group also said: “More importantly, the orchestrated labelling, ‘red-tagging’ and vilification we continue to endure must be seen in the context of a proven pattern that they can and have led to the extreme – extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.”

The NUPL lamented that they do not have “any effective and domestic remedy” to "legally" protect them from the alleged harassment by state forces.

Karapatan rallies behind NUPL

Rights group Karapatan, for its part, rallied behind the NUPL and called on the CA to grant the plea of TPO.

“With the intensified attacks and crackdown initiated by this government against various organizations and individuals, it is lamentable that our courts have routinely rejected such petitions, contrary to the spirit and intent of such legal remedy,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

Karapatan and other rights group also sought relief from the courts against red-tagging, but suffered a loss at the appeals court.

“This pattern speaks of the failure of domestic remedies to provide justice for victims of human rights violations, contrary to pronouncements of Duterte,” she added. — Kristine Joy Patag

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