Tag Archives: The Philippines

The Philippines: Rights lawyers pay tribute to ‘fallen heroes’

October 20, 2019

“Marami palang Ben dito.”

This was the statement of Clarissa Ramos, wife of slain Negros-based human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr., as his colleagues from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers paid tribute to their “fallen heroes” on Oct. 19.

Ramos was shot dead in the evening of Nov. 6, 2018 in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. He served as the go-to lawyer for the farmers and other poor of Negros. Among the last cases he handled was the case of the infamous Sagay 14 massacre.

Read: Rights lawyer gunned down in Negros

Clarissa accepted a painting from Ben’s colleagues who gathered here in Rizal Park Hotel in Manila for the 5th National Congress of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

“I urge the lawyers here to continue genuinely fighting for the people. Ben would always say there is nothing wrong with organizing and there is nothing wrong in defending the oppressed,” said Clarissa, adding that it is the “people will be the judge of our history.”

Apart from Ramos, the NUPL also paid tribute to lawyers Manuel Tan, Ramon Te, and slain lawyers Rodolfo Felicio and Concepcion Brizuela, one of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

Rights lawyers pay tribute to ‘fallen heroes’


Lawyer Rodolfo Felicio killed



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Attacks on Filipino Lawyers and law workers 23 Sept 19 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

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Tribute to Atty. Benjamin T. Ramos, Jr. and other NUPL Heroes

(National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Facebook, 19/10/19)


On the occasion of the  5th Congress of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, the International Association of People’s Lawyers sends best wishes for a productive meeting.

In solidarity, we salute the brave human rights lawyers of the NUPL who have chosen the path of resistance to tyranny, carrying on the struggle for social justice through juridical and other avenues.

You will be discussing issues of great importance and of universal significance for all organizations seeking to further the cause of social justice and the  fulfillment of the promise of the rule of law: “Unifying Our Ranks to Strengthen the Protection and Advancement of Human Rights in the Face of Adversity” under the theme:  “Conquering Challenges in People’s Lawyering”.

It is a mark of the maturity and sophistication of the NUPL that you have chosen this opportunity to gather together to reflect upon your collective capacity to achieve the aims of the NUPL under the extreme repression you face collectively and individually.

In this era of global state terror and corporate dominance of civil society, lawyers are in the frontline around the globe, bearing the brunt of authoritarian state power. Thus the NUPL has been for years subject to attacks of many kinds ranging from assassination through trumped up charges to defamatory red tagging. At this momentous Congress you will be remembering those members who have fallen to the guns of assassins who act with impunity, and we join you in paying respect to those fallen colleagues.

But take pride in your achievements, and the NUPL’s determined, brave resistance. You are a lighthouse showing the way to the lawyers of the world. The NUPL is now legendary, a model for those in other countries where lawyers for human and environmental rights and social justice are being hunted down and executed.

When the Duterte regime is in the ashcan of history, the NUPL will be there for the people.

Prof. Gill Boehringer

Prof. Stuart Russell

Co-Chairs, IAPL   October 18, 2019

No photo description available.

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The Philippines: Czarina Musni struggles for justice in the Philippines

October 14, 2019

Czarina Musni struggles for justice in the Philippines

The UN Human Rights Council recently adopted a resolution which expresses great concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines. In particular with regard to the reported extrajudicial killings and violations targeting critics and human rights defenders, including lawyers. ,,Today, being a lawyer for the defenseless makes you a target”, responded Edre U. Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers of the Philippines.

One of his brave fellow fighters is Czarina Musni, also a member of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM): ,,We welcome the UN resolution to investigate the rampant and numerous killings in the Philippines, as well as the incidents of extra-judicial killings of activists, peasant and indigenous peoples leaders and human rights defenders”, she says in an online interview with Lawyers for Lawyers. ,,This would show the world how the regime uses brute force, power and influence to silence his critics.”

We shall not falter

She outlines the current deterrent situation: ,,As lawyers we face constant threats and vilification for the human right cases we handle. Because of their demands, our clients are tagged as ‘terrorists’, as ‘communists’, or as ‘enemies of the state’.  And so are we, their lawyers. But we take these branding as our badges of valor, as we stand with and for the Filipino masses who call for justice and equality.”

And she continues without self-censorship: ,,We shall not be intimidated. We shall not falter. We shall go forth and defend our clients. Even if we have to do so to the death.”

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to provide a detailed report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines. What should be in that report?

Czarina Musni struggles for justice in the Philippines



Attacks on Filipino Lawyers and law workers 23 Sept 19 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

The Philippines: Duterte’s New War

October 11, 2019

In the Philippines, the president’s latest war is claiming the lives of farmers, activists and political opponents.

END KILLINGS. Human rights groups condemn the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte. File photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” has been blamed for thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings.

Now, the president is waging another bloody war – this time against a communist rebellion.

In November last year, Duterte declared a state of emergency on the island of Negros, ordering military and police reinforcements to launch operations against the New People’s Army.

But many allege the victims have not just been rebel fighters.

Rights organisations say they have documented more than 80 alleged extrajudicial killings of farm workers, human rights advocates and lawyers on Negros since Duterte came to power in 2016.

Ben Ramos, a human rights lawyer who represented poor farmers, was shot late one night in November last year.

His wife, Yesha Ramos, blames the Duterte government for his death.

“I feel so mad, I feel so sad, I feel just really angry,” she tells 101 East. “It was the state forces. Taking the life of a person who is very innocent, who has been very supportive of farmers, is not an answer.”



Amid unsolved killings of lawyers, attack on another in Capiz shows boundless impunity



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Attacks on Filipino Lawyers and law workers 23 Sept 19 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

The Philippines: Murder attempt against Filipina human rights lawyer

October 5, 2019

Human Rights Group decries murder attempt against Filipina human rights lawyer


The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) decries the ambush on Atty. Criselda Heredia while she was with her daughter and client last September 23, 2019. Fortunately, the three were physically uninjured as shots were fired into Heredia’s car by unidentified gunman on board a motorcycle. The incident happened in the municipality of Panit-an on the island of Panay, Central Philippines, around 11:30 am.

Heredia is a human rights lawyer and active in anti-mining campaigns on the island. As a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) she handles pro bono cases for farmers, human rights defenders and political prisoners.

According to NUPL, before the shooting, Heredia was red-tagged in posters and had been receiving death threats from unidentified men visiting her office. Human rights lawyer Atty. Benjamin Ramos was murdered on the nearby island of Negros last November 7, 2018. Before Ramos’ death, he was also red-tagged with name and face included in posters rolled out across the island.

“ICHRP condemns this outright attack against Filipino human rights lawyers. There is a clear pattern of vilification and harassments which then lead to political killings,” said Mr. Peter Murphy, chair of ICHRP’s Global Council. “This only shows the continuing climate of impunity and the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines under President Duterte”.

The attack on Atty Heredia brings to total for attacks on lawyers since President Duterte came to office in July 2016 to 61, with 49 killed and 12 survivors.


Roxas-based rights lawyer survives slay try


Human right group files motion at ICC



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Filipino human rights lawyer uninjured after gunmen ambush car

Filipino lawyers attacksed Sept 2019 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

https://www.abogacia.es/2019/09/18/filipinas-aumentan-los-ataques-contra-los-abogados/ (ESPANOL)

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(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 05/10/19)

The Philippines/UN: An appeal for safety of lawyers and judges

September 30, 2019

Concern over the escalation of attacks against lawyers and judges in the Philippines has prompted the issuance by lawyers’ organizations worldwide of the statement reproduced hereunder: It is hoped that our Philippine government and our justice system heed the recommendation.

‘The Philippines: Attacks against lawyers escalating’

“September 17, 2019—We, the undersigned organizations, lawyers and members of the legal profession, express deep concern over the increasing attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and the oppressive working environment they face since the start of President Duterte’s administration. We call on the Duterte administration to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers and end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.

Extrajudicial killings and harassment of lawyers

Since President Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, the number and intensity of attacks against lawyers have increased significantly. At least 41 lawyers and prosecutors were killed between July 2016 and September 5, 2019, including 24 practicing lawyers. Lawyers are also harassed and intimated. They are subjected to (death) threats, surveillance, labeling and other forms of attacks. In addition, at least five judges and retired judges have been murdered since July 2016, bringing the total number of jurists extrajudicially killed in the Philippines to at least 46 in the same period. Eight jurists survived attacks on their life.

Lawyers at risk

Most killings and attacks of lawyers took place as a result of discharging professional duties or are believed to be otherwise work-related. Especially at risk are lawyers representing people accused of terrorist or drug-related crimes, or government critics, such as journalists, political opposition leaders, and human-rights defenders. Lawyers providing legal representation in high-profile cases impacting established interests, such as land reform, or lawyers taking part in public discussion about human-rights issues, also face reprisals.

An appeal for safety of lawyers and judges

Locsin: ‘UN is not free to interfere with the state’




Filipino lawyers attacksed Sept 2019 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

International Bar Association: IBA 2019: ‘Enthusiastic amateurs’ wanted to protect lawyers at risk

September 27, 2019

Simon Davis IBA

Commercial lawyers can do their bit as ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ to help protect colleagues at risk and the rule of law in general around the world, the president of the Law Society told the global legal profession today.

‘We need to ensure we are capturing the imagination and influence of the enthusiastic amateur,’ Davis told a packed closing session of the International Bar Association’s annual conference discussing ways to address the persecution of lawyers and judges.

By uniting in solidarity the profession can show that human rights lawyers are not just some isolated group to be picked off by hostile authorities, Davis said.

‘You can be a human rights lawyer in any organisation – we are all human rights lawyers,’ the Clifford Chance partner said.

The conference heard accounts of lawyers being threatened, imprisoned and murdered in countries as diverse as Turkey, Thailand and Venezuela. In the Philippines alone, 44 lawyers have been killed over the past three years, Erik Hammerstein, a commercial litigator who sites on the board of Netherlands group Lawyers for Lawyers said.

Noting this year’s furore over the granting of legal aid to a solicitor acting for a fugitive from justice, Davis said that the battle to protect the independence of the legal profession also had to be fought at home.





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The Philippines: Ambush survivor gets death threats anew

September 24, 2019

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A LAWYER, who survived an ambush, said Monday, September 23, that she is receiving death threats anew.

Prosecutor Erfe del Castillo said she held a press conference to talk about the death threats she has been receiving.

The threats were the same with the ones she received prior to her ambush in December 2018 that caused the death of her partner at the Bacolod-Silay Airport Access Road.

Castillo said she received them through text messages that mentioned even the plate numbers of her car.

She said she has been silent for several months as the murder and frustrated murder charges are already in court.

However, as Castillo was gathering evidence against those involved in the plot to kill her, she said recent developments show that the same individuals who are after her are planning to make an attempt on her life again.

She said that last Saturday, September 21, she received a text message, which she completely ignored, although she later took at the message seriously after receiving a call from a reliable source that he learned of the plans to “liquidate” her.

Castillo said she suspects that the people involved are likely those who are now incarcerated or well-known drug personalities who are also in cahoots with individuals involved in the earlier ambush against her.



Amid unsolved killings of lawyers, attack on another in Capiz shows boundless impunity

Prosecutor tags former policeman in death threat

The Philippines: Top lawyers revive old group to fight Duterte policies

September 24, 2019

To protect civil liberties and people’s rights, top lawyers, law organizations and law students have convened for the revival of a legal initiative to protect the civil liberties and constitutional rights of the public against the Duterte administration.

“Not since the dark years of Martial Law have our civil liberties and fundamental rights have been threatened and blatantly violated with such brazen impunity,” read the statement of unity of the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLC).

CLC is broad network of lawyers and law students formed in 2006 during the height of protests against the policies of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo such as emergency rule, Executive Order No. 464, the Calibrated Preemptive Response, extrajudicial killings and the NBN-ZTE deal.

Convenors include members of the Otso Diretso who ran in the May 2019 elections — namely, Neri Colmenares of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada and Chel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

The group also includes  Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National President Domingo Egon Cayosa, Marlon Manuel of the Alternative Law Groups and Edre Olalia of NUPL.

Other key political figures included as convenors are former Vice President Jejomar Binay of Artikulo Tres and former Sen. Rene Saguisag of Mabini.

Legal luminaries and members of the academe are also among the convenors — Professor Pacifico Agabin of the University of the Philippines College of Law, former Dean of Ateneo School of Government Antonio Gabriel La Viña, Arpee Santiago of Ateneo HR Center, Dean Anna Maria D. Abad of the Adamson University College of Law and Dean Manuel Quibod of the Ateneo de Davao College of Law.

CLC has been responsible for several cases filed at the Supreme Court that questioned the policies of then-President Arroyo. It also became a resource witness for the 2006 International Fact-Finding Mission on attacks against lawyers, judges.

Top lawyers revive old group to fight Duterte policies



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The Philippines: NUPL-Panay condemns attack on colleague in Capiz

September 23, 2019








The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL-Panay) condemns in no uncertain terms the attempted ambush on our colleague, Atty. Cris Heredia, at around 11:30 am today. She was driving her car together with her daughter and her client when shots rang. She posted the incident stating she was just ambushed and that her car got two bullet holes. The attack happened in Panit-an, Capiz. She just came from a hearing.

We are still waiting for details on the incident.

NUPL-Panay holds State forces for the attack, particularly, the AFP and PNP under the Duterte administration. Atty. Heredia has been red-tagged in posters and has been personally threatened by a military agent who visited her office and warned her to slow down on her human rights advocacy.

Atty. Heredia used to be a cultural worker who performed musical numbers during protest action. Aside from lawyering, she does some painting jobs and has held one-person exhibits in Iloilo City and Roxas City.

Since July 2019, when Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte came to power, attacks against lawyers have mounted, 47 deaths as of this time. The figure also includes judges and public prosecutors.

The attempt on Atty. Heredia came a day after the media ran stories of lawyers worldwide asking the Duterte administration to protect Philippine lawyers.


Atty. Pet Melliza
NUPL-Panay public information officer

Atty. Rene Estocapio
NUPL-Panay President

(National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Facebook, 23/09/19)

Karapatan condemns frustrated killing of NUPL Lawyer Atty. Criselda Heredia

NUPL-Panay lawyer Atty. Criselda Heredia was reportedly ambushed by a lone gunman onboard a motorcycle in Roxas City, Capiz. According to initial reports, Atty. Heredia was inside a car with her daughter and a client when the incident occured today, at around 11:30am on September 23. There were two bullet holes in Atty. Heredia’s car, but all three were unharmed. They came from a hearing when their car was fired at by the assailant. They are now at a police station to file a report on the incident.

Atty. Heredia is a known anti-mining activist and a human rights lawyer. She was subjected to prior incidents of harassment, including the tailing incident in November 2018 when supporters and friends from progressive groups went to visit the wake of slain human rights lawyer Atty. Ben Ramos. On December 11, 2018,  Atty. Heredia was among the 11 NUPL-Panay lawyers whose photo appeared in a poster seen along Guanco Street in Iloilo City. The caption was: “Minions of the Community Party of the Philippines.” We reiterate that such cases of red-tagging lead to worse forms of violations against the victims, including extrajudicial killings. Human rights lawyer Atty. Benjamin Ramos was also red-tagged prior to his killing, with his face likewise included in posters with malicious messages.

(Photo: A picture of the poster which red-tagged Panay lawyers. A photo of Atty. Heredia was included in the malicious poster, found in the lower right of the said poster)

We condemn this latest attack against human rights lawyers.  This is indicative of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country where all critics who raise legitimate demands, including human rights defenders, are deemed as targets. We attribute this attack to the vicious and ruthless state forces of the Duterte government, given Atty. Heredia’s work and advocacy for political prisoners and for the marginalized. Following the killing of Atty. Ben Ramos and the continuing harassment of many human rights lawyers, we echo the demand to stop the attacks against people’s lawyers!

Reference:   Roneo Clamor, Secretary General, +639997721233

                    Karapatan Public Information Desk, +63918979058


Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. 

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Filipino lawyers attacksed Sept 2019 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

International Bar Association/South Korea: Sessions on persecution of lawyers, Annual Conference, September 22-27, 2019

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