[Statement] Mindanao´s People´s Lawyers decry worsening vilification of lawyers under Duterte´s Martial Law with a stealthily delivered hit-list -UPLM

Mindanao´s People´s Lawyers decry worsening vilification of lawyers under Duterte´s Martial Law with a stealthily delivered hit-list.

It is indefinite terms, a perverse action when lawyers who provide free legal assistance to those who found themselves in the crosshairs of the draconian rule of President Duterte´s Martial Law become targets of annihilation. This leads us to recognize that justice and peace in Mindanao under martial law are indeed an oxymoron.

Of late, Northern Mindanao Region is hugging the headlines for the wrong reasons as fascist and militarist elements released an unsigned, baseless and absurd hit-list which includes lady lawyers of the Musni family. The list is purportedly showing members of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The hit list includes names of priests, nuns, organizations, media personality, a COMELEC employee/law student and other individuals who are critical of the Martial law in Mindanao.

We at UPLM decry the slander and death threat coming from this hit-list to fellow human rights lawyers, Attys. Beverly Musni, Atty Czarina Musni and Atty Beverly Anne Musni and a law student, LA Corrales, and we are angered at this malicious and atrocious action against the persons and organizations on the hit-list. It is already a pattern that after a person is vilified or red-tagged, the next chapter will be death or gallows for such person.

This hit-list may just be a list but it can also be an imprimatur as proven by recent events. Early on, tarpaulin posters were seen in the town of Talakag, Misamis Oriental portraying Datu Jomorito Goaynon as an NPA supporter. A couple of weeks later he and Ireneo Udarbe of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP- NMR ) were illegally arrested and detained. Sergio Atay, a peasant leader from the Western Mindanao region was visited by military men sternly ordering him to stop his involvement with their local (KMP) affiliated organization. He was tortured and murdered after he was interrogated at a checkpoint. This hit-list shows the blood-stained hands of Martial Law at work.

Under the current scheme of things, is it now a crime to serve the under-served, the deprived and the oppressed? It seems so, as according to Free Legal Assistance Group, 14 lawyers have lost their lives in suspect circumstances under Duterte´s administration. Putting our colleagues in this perilous position will only spark people´s lawyering among those in the legal profession. Injustice will only help grow young lawyers and one day they will stand beside us and be led by the people´s thirst for justice.

Under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, lawyers have been murdered in cold blood. Ozamis City´s Judge Edmundo Pintac is the 4th judge and 14th lawyer killed. The murderous Martial Law in Mindanao is a specter that haunts the rest of the country. In the Visayas, lawyer Atty Ben Ramos was killed on November 6, 2018. On that day three bullets ended his enduring pro-bono legal services to the poor and marginalized. The Sagay Massacre case being his last case is still crying for justice on his demise. Powers that be are emboldened upon witnessing that in this country crime pays, that the worst criminals are scot-free, even conveniently seated in the once hallowed halls of the Senate.


For reference
Atty Jose V. Begil Jr

Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM)
Press Statement [February 25, 2019]

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