THE COURT of Appeals (CA) rejected the plea of a lawyers’ group seeking protection against government threats on its members.
In a 26-page ruling, the appellate court’s Special Fifteenth Division said the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer had failed to prove that their life, liberty, and security had been violated.
The lawyer’s group earlier sought court protection from alleged government harassment of its members. Named respondents were President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr., among others.
“However, the totality of the evidence presented by petitioners fails to meet the requisite evidentiary threshold,” the court said.
The court also denied their plea for the government to produce data, saying they failed to show how their rights to privacy were violated given that their names and their office locations were already known by the public.
In a statement, NUPL President Edre U. Olalia said he was not surprised by the ruling. “We shall nonetheless contest this adverse decision before the Supreme Court to push the envelope,” he said.
Meanwhile, human rights groups Karapatan, Gabriela, and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its dismissal of their similar plea for protection.
In a related development, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) denounced the killing of lawyer Anthony H. Trinidad, who was ambushed in Negros Oriental on July 23.
In a statement, IBP demanded that authorities “do their job well” to ensure justice for the victim.
“For if lawyers who are sentinels of the rule of law and who serve the poor are themselves assassinated with impunity, no one would be safe and no one would expect justice in our country,” it said.
Mr. Trinidad and his wife, who was critically wounded, were shot several times while they were on his way home in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on July 26 ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the ambush and file appropriate charges.
An international delegation of lawyers last March said at least 37 members of the legal profession were killed in the exercise of duty since President Rodrigo R. Duterte took office in June 2016. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas