March 9, 2017
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers condemns the harassment of Atty. V.J. Topacio, a lawyer of the Pro Labor Center, and a member of the NUPL
Atty. Topacio was followed and tailgated after he attended a preliminary investigation hearing of Ferdinand Castillo, the campaign officer of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Metro Manila, who was illegally arrested recently. During the hearing, Atty. Topacio questioned the propriety of the appearance of a certain Bryan De Guzman Bantilan, who introduced himself as a lawyer representing the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. On his way home after the hearing, Atty. Topacio was followed and chased by a white Toyota Revo with Plate No. SGY 793 and a motorcycle. He was able to shake off the vehicles.
This is not the first time that Atty. Topacio was subjected to such form of harassment. In a similar instance he was also surveilled and followed by suspected state agents a few days after he represented Andrea Rosal, the daughter of former spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Obviously, these are intended to intimidate Atty, Topacio to discourage him to represent victims of harassment by state agents like Ferdinand Castillo and Andrea Rosal.
The harassment of Atty. Topacio, and the recent attacks and killings of other lawyers, is an attack against the legal profession, since these are all obviously intended to prevent them from performing their functions as lawyers and undermine their independence. Ultimately, this is an attack against the client’s right to effective representation as guaranteed by the Constitution and the United Nation Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
As such, the NUPL condemns the harassment of Atty. Topacio, and the continuing attacks against lawyers, and calls on the Government, as well as the military and police establishments, to respect the role of lawyers as embodied in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and to stop the attack against them.
Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL Secretary General
Atty. Cristina Yambot
NUPL Public Information Officer
(National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Facebook)
Tagged: The Philippines