The NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLES' LAWYERS In These Dangerous Times

We are living in dangerous times.

Here are some of the facts: Since The Queen assumed power in 2001, there have been close to 900 cases of political activists and human rights defenders brutally murdered, involuntarily disappeared, unjustifiably arrested and detained or subjected to extreme pressure, threats and harassments. Of the murdered, nineteen were lawyers.

Human rights violations continue to escalate. The Melo Commission, created by The Queen to investigate the killings established that the military was involved, although it virtually cleared its creator. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Prof Philip Alston came for a visit, conducted his own investigation and affirmed what the enlightened quarters have been claiming- the State is liable for human rights violations. The dimwitted Secretary of Injustice (born a joke, lives a joke, will die a joke), also The Queen's muchacho, dismissed Alston as a mere muchacho of the UN.

Plagued by questions on the legitimacy of her totalitarian reign, The Queen forced the hand of Congress to pass the Human Security Act otherwise known as the Anti-Terror Law. Under this law, the expression of legitimate dissent to or righteous indignation over anti-people State policies may be repressed under the cover of anti-terror operation. It allows the detention of the accused for 72 hours without charge, surveillance and wiretapping. It becomes the paper justification for the violation of human rights. It becomes the paper justification to stifle, "Oust The Unelected President!" movements.

The Human Security Law promotes mainly one thing: Silence. This it does by legalizing State repression of freedom of expression. This it does by legitimizing human rights violations.

These are very trying times when the voice of the sober urgently needs to be heard. There is the ZTE Broadband deal (Please visit the blog Manila Bay Watch for an exhaustive, enlightened dissection of the issue, the broadbandits and the other members of the cast of characters in the drama.), and yet the truth about it is still beyond our reach. It is a story of unprecedented corruption in Philippine history, so massive that Erap’s plunder may sound very trivial. There is the Hello, Garcinungaling Scandal which demands closure. There is the Jose Pidal episode. There are so many more.

Silence is the people’s foe. The HSA is the last thing we need if we want to be free. Only truth makes freedom possible. As Martial Rule demonstrated in no uncertain terms, silence is not golden; it is the enemy of truth.

It is when democratic institutions and human rights are shaken and exposed to great peril that the people look unto the legal profession for refuge. Really, this profession has a commitment to democracy, justice and truth (although many of its members have chosen to take the side of these virtues' enemies in the name of cold cash, but that is another story). It is in times as trying as the present that a show of its dedication to the preservation of democratic institutions, rights, justice and truth is expected by the public. When the lawyers fail them, they turn to the priests and nuns. Sadly, though, our priests and nuns as a collective group have chosen to fold their arms and watch the scene, if they watch at all. The whole thing is sadder really when you note that the sustained protest against Myanmar's despotic regime is spearheaded by nuns and monks who used to be cloistered in their monasteries, seemingly oblivious to the slaughter of freedom and humans in the outside world. There is development somewhere; there is regression elsewhere. Cheers to the Burmese, by the way.

Aware of the gargantuan responsibility of the legal profession, some one hundred lawyers, paralegals and law students from all over the country gathered in Cebu and founded the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers. They elected veteran human rights lawyer Romeo T. Capulong Chairperson. Another lawyer of the same mold Frederico Gapuz of Mindanao was elected President. Atty. Neri Colmenares (who was often addressed The Congressman Without A Seat, being Bayan Muna’s third nominee) is NUPL’s Secretary General. NUPL is committed to the promotion, defense and protection of human rights especially of the poor and the oppressed.

For sure, NUPL members will be targeted as terrorists by their mere defense and, therefore, association with groups and individuals openly critical of the government and its anti-people policies. Many of them have been subjected to various forms of harrasment. But they are not cowed because “to embrace silence in these troubled times is to contribute to the assault on Philippine democracy, and to abandon our sworn duty to defend justice and struggle for truth is to contribute to the victory of repression, and to choose to be safe and uninvolved is a betrayal of our oath to protect and preserve justice and truth.”

The Queen’s totalitarian regime will succeed with a mute constituency. The NUPL will not be muted. It will continue to shatter silence where it looms. The Queen should not succeed.

Let not silence kill democracy
! Let not silence kill truth and justice!

Mabuhay ang NUPL! Mabuhay ang karapatang pantao! Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!


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Philippines, 2007

What time and place is this?
Lies fly around like birds
Freedom’s banished away
Truth’s chained in an abyss

Terror rears its jagged head
Its fangs drip with more death
It spreads fright in the night
And rules the day with dread

What time and place is this?
Hope abandoned the slums
Mothers search for loved ones
Dirge punctuates the stillness

The dead crowd out the lists
Graveyards are getting small
Wraiths wail in Justice Hall
Orphans grieve with clenched fists

What time and place is this?
Smile is a luxury
Youth left children’s faces
Old people are in tears.

Like angry streams of blood
Puce rays filter through clouds
The air sucks out our breath
Disgust is like a flood

What time and place is this?
Is this when time will end?
Things could not get much worse
This place – this is bleakness.

But this is also when
The only choice is fight
Stand up for what is right
Home - this will be again. /
cheryl daytec
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