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The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, at the end for their Third National Congress, have vowed to bring lawsuits to the Philippine military for the targeting and red baiting of national democratic activists in the Philippines:
Human rights defenders called Negros Island the “laboratory” of the military’s tactic of swamping activists and human rights defenders with trumped-up charges, which they brand as “continuing harassment and intimidation” to silence protests.
At the press briefing here at the Third National Congress of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) on November 30-December 1, 2013 in Bacolod City,. they said they will “bring the fight to the military” by countering with charges of their own, while their supporters in the Lower House vow to hold congressional inquiries.
“We will not back out from this fight. We will stand by our clients,” declared Atty. Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the NUPL, the largest nationwide organization of human rights lawyers. “We will also file charges against them administratively and criminally.”
Two Bayan Muna representatives in the lower House, both NUPL members, announced they would be filing resolutions in Congress for an inquiry on the growing trend of the military slapping critics trumped-up charges, with Negros as the military’s “laboratory”.
Reps. Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate said they will summon during the investigation not only military and police officers, jail warden, false witnesses, but also public prosecutors and even members of the judiciary “to explain to us on their role in the prosecution and trial of these trump-up charges.:
“The trumped-up charges merely intend to silence militant organizations and individuals and stop them from exposing abuses and corruption in government,” said Colmenares, who is also NUPL president.
The military in Negros slapped murder charges against eight activists and human rights advocates.
Two of them are in detention, namely: Zara Alvarez, member of the Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA), who has been in prison for one year. The other, Alizar Nabas, a peasant, was slapped with arson and jailed for three years.
“Nothing has changed under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III,” noted Marie Hilao Enriquez, chair of the human rights group Karapatan. “Human rights violations continue: since Aquino came to power, 159 cases of extra-judicial execution and 16 enforced disappearances”
In the period recorded there are now 449 political prisoners that included 35 women, 12 elderly and 3 minors aside from 28 sickly ones.
“This trend is happening elsewhere but it is in Negros where the military is most assiduous in filing trumped-up charges,” said Colmenares.
Trumped-up charges have been also filed in other parts of the country; the venues of the congressional inquiries will be in places where they happen, they said