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Foreign lawyers claim being tailed, threatened by state agents

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THE INTERNATIONAL delegation of lawyers who conducted an examination on the killing of lawyers in the Philippines said they were tailed and subject to threats and surveillance by alleged state agents. In a statement late March 19, they said that at the press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) last March 18, a man in civilian clothes who identified himself as a military personnel told an IBP staff that “these foreigners are now under surveillance.” They also said that they were tailed by two men on a motorcycle with no plate number from the IBP to the mall where they had lunch, and to their hotel. “(T)hese vexatious acts against our Delegation appear to have the fingerprints of intimidation and reprisal by State agents,” they said. The nine foreign lawyers on March 14 to 17 met with various government and non-government offices to conduct a preliminary investigation on the killings of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors in the country. Among their findings include the sharp increase in the violations and killings of legal professionals under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. “Indeed, to see and feel is to believe. And no amount of ad hominem insults and official denials of reality can change this matter of fact. But we will be back,” they said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas