March 15, 2019
Alarmed with the attacks on lawyers, judges and prosecutors in the Philippines, nine foreign lawyers from six different countries have come to the country to conduct their own investigation.
The fact-finding mission is composed of lawyers from Belgium, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and United States.
Suzanne Adely of National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of the U.S, and International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) said the delegation is hoping to collect information and answers from government institutions about the alarming rate of extrajudicial killings of lawyers and judges.
According to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), 38 lawyers have been killed under the Duterte administration. On March 14, another lawyer, Rex Jasper Lopoz, was gunned down in Tagum City.
Adely said their mission will focus on the extrajudicial killings of lawyers. “We cannot expect to be able to fight for justice if we cannot protect the peoples’ lawyers,” Adely told Bulatlat in an interview.
A trade unionist based in New York, Adely said she has been active in solidarity work with Filipinos in the U.S. and has learned about the political situation in the Philippines from her Filipino friends. “I always knew that I would come at some point,” she said.
Also joining the delegation is Johannes Karel Geesbaak, director of the Foundation for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, who joined similar missions in the country during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
“The situation has not changed since the last time,” Geesbaak said during the colloquium held at the IBP building, March 15.
International fact-finding missions investigating the attacks on Filipino lawyers were conducted in 2006 and in 2008. The 2008 mission noted little or no progress has been made in the cases investigated in 2006.
15 March 2019
Legal Forum highlights crucial role of lawyers;
Int’l delegation of lawyers looks into attacks on peers & brethren
PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE’S misconception of the role of lawyers in society has largely contributed to the continuing attacks and threats on the legal profession. This was highlighted during the Colloquium on the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers: Focus on the Philippines held yesterday March 14 at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Over the past three years of Duterte’s administration, at least 37 lawyers, judges, and prosecutors – or more than one per month- have been killed since President Duterte assumed power on 1 July 2016. At least 26 incidents of other forms of attacks and threats have been recorded.
“I hope that we can educate the population on the indispensable role of lawyers in society,” said IBP National President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo. He added that: “I also hope that we can send the message across that we should not be attacked on the basis that we handle cases for a client.”
Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation Director Hans Gaasbeek of the Netherlands aired the same sentiment. Gaasbeek emphasized the need for governments to educate not only the people but also the police on the role of lawyers.
Meanwhile, the president of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) believes that the government is doing its best to address the killing of judges. Judge Felix Reyes Jr. discussed how the Supreme Court deals with the killings and attacks on the members of the Judiciary. He said that the Supreme Court had issued an administrative order detailing the actions a judge may take to secure his life. The PJA has recorded at least 29 judges killed from 1999 to 2018.
The Colloquium, sponsored mainly by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Union of International Advocates (UIA) and Day of Endangered Lawyers Foundation (DELF), is part of the International Delegation of Lawyers to the Philippines. The
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and the IBP were requested to host the 9-member Delegation of lawyers from Belgium, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands and the US.
The International Delegation of Lawyers to the Philippines is organized by the IADL, UIA, DELF and supported by the Confederation of Lawyers in Asia and the Pacific (COLAP), National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of the US, Progress Lawyers Network (PLN) of Belgium, Italian Democratic Lawyers, Japanese Lawyers for International Solidarity and Action (JALISA), and MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society of Korea.
The Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers, European Lawyers for World Human Rights and Democracy (ELDH), European Democratic Lawyers (AED), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers of UK,
Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers (HUPL) of Greece, Italian National Bar Association, the Dutch League of Human Rights and the International Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) also endorse the activity.
The Delegation wishes to know the reasons and causes of various forms of attacks against Filipino lawyers, share opinions on recommendations to abate further attacks, and remind the auuthorities of its obligation to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.
They will be holding a series of meetings in Metro Manila and Iloilo and will publicly share their initial insights and views on Monday, March 18. #
Contact: M. Pinlac – Ad Hoc Delegation Secretariat