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Lawyers bring 'ouster matrix' to SC

The National Union of People’s Lawyers will raise before the Supreme Court today the inclusion of its officers and members in the so-called “oust-Duterte matrix,” which they deem is the administration’s latest attack against human rights lawyers.

“Definitely, we will file a supplemental motion sa korte dun sa writ of amparo na finile ng NUPL more than a week ago. Ire-raise namin itong pinaka-recent na atake sa NUPL sa Korte Suprema, NUPL chairman and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“Sa Wednesday, magpa-file kami ng motion sa aming pending na writ of amparo at writ of habeas corpus. 

In other developments:

• The Philippine National Police on Tuesday said it will conduct a validation on the matrix showed by Malacañang that includes the names of the journalists and media organizations allegedly involved in a destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Yes of course, [we will investigate],” Police Chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters.

• THE cat does not have wings so it won’t fly, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III as he emphasized that any ouster plot against Duterte would not prosper.

Considering that the President enjoys the trust of a big majority of the people, Sotto said, any destabilization move would just fail.

• Senator Aquilino Pimentel III called on everyone not to entertain any such idea. 

“I urge everybody to trust our democratic processes. In a democracy like ours, political leadership should be determined by the ballot, said Pimentel, a former Senate President.

• Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the public not to be distracted by the supposed ouster plot.

On April 15, the NUPL sought a writ of amparo from the high court and, for the time being, a temporary protection order prohibiting Duterte and his defense and military officials from threatening their lawyers.

A writ of amparo is a remedy available to people whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The NUPL has also sought a writ of habeas data, which would order administration officials to disclose and destroy information they have on the lawyers.

Colmenares said the inclusion of the lawyers’ group on the matrix―which was published in the Manila Times and which apparently came from the administration―opens it to attacks from Duterte supporters.

“This government goes by lists: narco-list, ouster list, Red October list, ganun siya e. The fact na nakalista ka, markado ka na, so it really is a serious concern on our part,” he said.

Citing a source from the Office of the President, the Manila Times published on Monday an article detailing an alleged plot being concocted by news sites Rappler, VERA Files and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, as well as the NUPL to “discredit” Duterte and “destabilize” his administration.

The report also showed a supposed matrix that links veteran journalist and VERA Files president Ellen Tordecillas and other individuals to the person known as “Bikoy,” who has alleged in a series of anonymous videos that members of the Duterte family are involved in the illegal drug trade. 

NUPL secretary general lawyer Rey Cortez said that the matrix is disturbing because it is meant to stifle dissent and is an attack on the legal profession.

“It is an attempt to stop us from continuing our advocacy. It is a dangerous accusation. Kahit na alam naming baseless, alam namin ang effect ng ganitong vilification,” he said.

Cortez also said that the NUPL is also considering whether to file separate cases against those responsible for the matrix.

Isang option ang pagfa-file ng case, mag-uusap kami and we will weigh all our options very, very carefully,” he said. Macon Ramos-Araneta and PNA

Topics: National Union of People’s Lawyers , Supreme Court , Vicente Sotto III , Oscar Albayalde , Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
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