MANILA, Philippines – Other human rights groups are following the lead of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) as they sought on Monday, May 6, a protective writ from the Supreme Court (SC) against what they say is red-tagging by the Philippine government.
Among the petitioners are human rights group Karapatan, women’s rights group Gabriela, religious group Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and Elisa Tita Lubi, who the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier wanted to put on the country’s terrorist list.
The petition for the writ of amparo follows the victory of the NUPL, having been granted the writ by the en banc last Friday, May 3. In addition, the SC directed President Rodrigo Duterte to explain the harassment against the human rights lawyers.
The SC also compelled military leaders to face the court in a Court of Appeals hearing on May 14, as the appellate court decides whether to issue a protective order, or a restraining order of sorts against the army.
The petition also asks for a writ of habeas data, which was likewise given to the NUPL.
A writ of amparo is a legal remedy seeking a protection order, while a writ of habeas data asks the Court to compel the respondent to delete or destroy damaging information.
Karapatan said 3 of its human rights workers have been killed under the Duterte administration, and that “none of the perpetrators have been brought to court for their crimes.”
“Members and officers of petitioner Karapatan have been experiencing relentless persecution through the filing of trumped-up criminal charges by state security officers and agents,” said the petition.
Duterte has also publicly named Karapatan in his speeches as being linked to communist rebels.
Another petitioner is RMP, which Philippine Army Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr accused of “radicalizing” children.
Upon the request of the Philippine government, the European Union is now auditing funds it donated to RMP to validate military claims that the money was used to finance communist rebels.
Lubi, on the other hand, was among the over 600 individuals that the DOJ wanted to put on the terror list.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has admitted that the list was not properly vetted. The DOJ has since withdrawn the names, and left only 8 in the terror tag petition pending before the Manila Regional Trial Court.
“These acts of respondents in publicly accusing the petitioners of being communist front organizations with the objective of crippling their legitimate operations and programs for the marginalized sectors and victims of human rights violations are also violating the petitioners’ right to organize, recognized no less than by the Constitution,” said the petition. – Rappler.com