The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers on Friday asked the Supreme Court to resolve its two-year-old petition which sought a reversal of the Court of Appeals’ 2019 decision that dismissed the group’s plea for protection against what the lawyers called “harassment and threats by the police and the military” against them.
In its appeal, NUPL reiterated its plea for the SC to stop the respondents (mostly police and military officials) from red tagging and vilifying the NUPL members.
“While the instant Petition is pending before this Honorable Court, Petitioner NUPL and its members have experienced and continue to be subjected to malicious vilification, real threats and vicious harassment in different forms and platforms,” the NUPL said.
“Your officers of the court are respectfully seeking succor before we, as endangered species, become extinct,” the group said.
In its July 26, 2019 decision, the CA dismissed NUPL’s petition for writs of amparo and habeas data. The petition was originally filed with the SC on April 24, 2019, but the High Court tossed the case to the CA for hearing and resolution.
A writ of amparo “is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.”
A writ of habeas data, on the other hand, “is a legal remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information.”
In its July 26, 2019 decision, the CA ruled that there was no substantial evidence of alleged violations or threats to life, liberty and security of NUPL members.
“We hold that individual petitioners failed to substantially prove that their life, liberty and security are threatened with violation,” the appellate court said.
“After a careful study of the allegations in the petition, the respective arguments of the parties, and the evidence so far presented, the Court finds no basis to grant the TPO (temporary protection order),” the CA ruled.
The appellate court said that there was no need to issue the TPO since the writ of amparo issued earlier by the SC “may serve to prevent a threat from becoming an actual violation against the aggrieved party.”
In assailing the CA decision before the SC, the NUPL said: “The continued vilification, harassment and threats to the lives, security and liberty of the petitioners by any act of the respondents, including but not limited to issuing public statements maligning and vilifying the petitioners and their activities as human rights lawyers, must stop now. We ask your Honors to stand by your lawyers.”
The lawyers told the SC that the killings and threats against NUPL members violate the United Nation’s Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which mandates governments to guarantee the functioning of members of the legal profession.
In its manifestation, the NUPL told the SC: “The serious and continuing threats against Petitioners and other NUPL members and the failure to condemn and prosecute these acts of violence is an act of injustice in itself which equally erodes public trust and confidence in our justice system.”
The 2019 SC petition was filed by NUPL chairman Neri Colmenares and other officers Edre Olalia, president; Catherine Salucon, vice president; Ian Anthony Sapayan, vice president for NUPL-Visayas;
Ephraim Cortez, secretary-general; Edgar Carmona, auditor; and Bayan Muna Partylist Carlos Isagani Zarate.
Named respondents then were President Rodrigo R. Duterte, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Defense Seretary Delfin Lorenzana; Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., AFP Deputy Commander for Intelligence Brig. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, AFP Chief of the Intelligence Service Maj. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri, Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto and AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr.