The National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers sent greetings to the Fifth Congress of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in the Philippines from the 2019 Law for the People convention in Durham, North Carolina.
NLG IC co-chairs Jackelyn Mariano, Suzanne Adely and Jeanne Mirer – also the President of the IADL – began the video at the International Committee/Labor and Employment Committee reception on Friday, October 18. Attendees greeted the NUPL by chanting, “Lawyers of the People, Fighting Now!” in Tagalog.
The NUPL is a member organization of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, as is the NLG. The NUPL itself and a number of its members have been fighting harsh repression and human rights violations, including politically targeted lawsuits and prosecutions and extrajudicial assassinations, threats and killings. Earlier in 2019, Suzanne Adely was a member of an international delegation of lawyers documenting human rights violations in the Philippines.
At the NUPL Congress, members issued the following statement, resolving to continue the struggle to defend people’s rights:
NUPL CONGRESS RESOLVES TO FILE COUNTER CHARGES AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS:
Prepares cases against Pres. Duterte in 2022
The National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) today resolved in its 5th Congress to file a series of cases against human rights violators and what it calls the infrastructure of impunity in the justice system–those who shield these perpetrators from punishment and accountability.
The lawyers coming from various NUPL chapters nationwide also agreed to start preparing cases against Pres. Duterte in 2022.
“Our 5th Congress approved the plan for NUPL members to start preparing a series of criminal cases against State security forces who commit EJK and other human rights violations. We will also ask other lawyers groups to help in what we hope to be the filing of voluminous cases against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Our members all over the country will also file cases against members of the PNP who refuse to investigate the killings while filing harassment cases against activists. We will also file cases against witnesses who commit perjury in these trumped up charges” said NUPL Pres. Edre Olalia.
“There have been reports of the scheme of the police of filing complaints against activists purposely using a false address so that the accused will not be able to answer the summons of the prosecutors. Should we find that prosecutors purposely and maliciously filed cases against activists without undertaking due diligence in ensuring that the accused are given the chance to counter these complaints, we will not hesitate to also file administrative cases against them”, he added.
NUPL Chair. Neri Colmenares also revealed more complaints to be filed against Pres. Duterte in international bodies such as the UN to serve as templates for cases that will be filed against him once he is out of office in 2022.
“The justice system in the Philippines is unable to provide legal remedies to victims of EJK and other human rights violations because as Pres. Duterte claims, he is immune from suit. That is why we will pursue more cases against him in the UN and other international mechanisms for now. However, these cases will serve as preparations for the domestic cases that will be filed against him once he is out of office.” Said NUPL Chairman Neri Colmenares. “Pres. Duterte cannot even promise members of the police and military that they will not go to prison because even Pres. Duterte himself cannot escape criminal accountability once he steps down from office. Section 9 of RA 9851 provides that “ official capacity as a head of state or government xxx shall in no cases exempt a person from criminal responsibility”.
“It is timely that human rights lawyers from our chapters all over the country converged today considering the escalating human rights violations and the continuing impunity. We have one message to Pres. Duterte and his police and military—we will stand our ground, we will continue to run after the perpetrators of human rights violations and we will file criminal cases against Pres. Duterte in 2022” said NUPL Secretary General Rey Cortez. “We will exhaust all legal venues, both domestic and international, to provide legal remedy to the families of victims of human rights violations.”