Tumandok land defenders' lawyer stabbed in Ilolilo

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Tumandok land defenders' lawyer stabbed in Ilolilo
This handout photo shows lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers.
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers handout

MANILA, Philippines — A rights lawyer handling a case in the arrest of indigenous Tumandok land defenders and assisting in anti-terrorism law petitions was stabbed in Iloilo on Wednesday night.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers condemned the attack against their Assistant Vice President for Visayas, Angelo Karlo Guillen.

“Reports stated that two unidentified men stabbed Guillen in the head and the shoulder,” NUPL Vice President for Visayas Rene Estopacio said in a statement.

Guillen serves as legal counsel for various public interest and human rights cases, such as in the petition lodged by 44 progressive groups against the much feared Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 before the Supreme Court.

The young lawyer also represents activists and human rights defenders facing trumped up charges in court, including the activists arrested during the police raids in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental in October 2019, the NUPL said.

It added that Guillen is handling the case of 18 land defenders who were arrested on Panay island in December 2020. Nine Tumadok community leaders were also killed in police and military operations in Capiz and Iloilo.

Guillen was also arrested after responding to those who were detained of 42 activists protesting the killing of Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator Jory Porquia, the NUPL also said.

NUPL President Edre Olalia, in a separate statement, said: “This is way too much, too many, too brazen and too evil… He is one of the best and the brightest, among the boldest and youngest.”

The group of rights lawyers have called on authorities to “promptly and properly investigate the attempt on the life of Atty. Guillen.”

This incident is just the latest in the continued attacks and killings against members of the legal profession since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

An independent tally of NUPL showed that at least 54 lawyers and judges were killed since June 2016, “that are prima facie related to their work.”

A large majority of these murders remain unresolved even years later.

Philippine institutions in the legal profession met in January to discuss security concerns of the legal sector. The Department of Justice is also creating an inventory of cases that are under investigation, are undergoing preliminary investigation and those that have reached the court for trial “for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely.”

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