The following statement of greetings to the convention of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in the Philippines was co-authored by the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) and the NLG International Committee. Jeanne Mirer, IC co-chair and the president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, of which both the NLG and NUPL are members, will be speaking over Skype at the NUPL convention on an international perspective on people’s lawyering.
September 16, 2017 marks 10 years that the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has been upholding, promoting, and fighting for the rights of the oppressed and the people of the Philippines. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee (IC) and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) stand in solidarity with the mission and work of the people’s lawyers. We strongly commend their ten years of ongoing struggle with the people!
We support NUPL’s continued lawyering for the people. The NUPL has pledged legal counseling and assistance to the hapless and helpless drug war victims, while denouncing those responsible for the cold-blooded, unmitigated premeditated, and brutal murders. One such victim was Kian Loyd Delos Santos, a 17-year-old who was killed during a police anti-drug operation in Caloocan in mid-August. He was a victim among many other cases of systematic murders of drug suspects by the state forces of Duterte. Coupled with Duterte’s purported drug war is the still ongoing martial law he declared in Mindanao in May as a response to ISIS elements in Marawi City by the combined forces of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. The martial law declaration was overly broad, covering all of Mindanao despite the target groups solely being in Marawi City. The City continues to be bombed and the Armed Forces of the Philippine have taken the declaration as a signal to generally target workers, the Lumad, and the Moro people.
President Duterte’s “War on Drugs” implicates multiple violations of people’s rights to life, liberty, and due process. The War on Drugs is just a small part of the President’s larger attacks on human rights, including the region-wide declaration of Martial Law and militarization of Mindanao. President Duterte disregards fundamental international and domestic human rights by instructing and goading the police and military to shoot and bomb innocent people and then promising to protect them from reprise. Further, the Duterte government’s application of any right is anti-poor, killing them and effecting intrusive searches and tests.
With the theme of “Addressing the Escalating Human Rights Violations: The Role of the People’s Lawyer in the Struggle to Attain Just and Lasting Peace,” we are confident that the NUPL will continue its legacy of human rights defense to address the burning issues of the Philippines today.
NLG is a national association of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers in the United States dedicated to using the law as an instrument for attaining social justice. Formed in 1937 with a mandate to advocate for the protection of human and civil rights, it is the oldest human rights/public interest bar association in the nation.
NYCHRP is a volunteer-run education and advocacy group based in New York City that works to promote social, economic and political alternatives that foster democracy and peace based on justice in the Philippines and for Filipinos in the diaspora today. NYCHRP shares the vision of human rights advanced by the National Democratic movement of the Philippines.
As human rights advocates and members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the NLG IC and NYCHRP echoes the concerns of the NUPL and the people they serve regarding the violations of people’s fundamental rights. We support the efforts of NUPL to link human rights work to a movement that demands the improvement of the Philippines from a political, economic, and social system burdened by semi-feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism, and imperialism to one that serves its people and allows for their participation in society.