We will also ask other lawyers groups to help in what we hope to be the filing of voluminous cases against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) will hold President Duterte accountable for the numerous rights violations he committed against the Filipino people once he steps down from office in 2022.
This is the resolution of the peoples’ lawyers who gathered for their fifth national congress on Oct. 19-20 here in Manila. Lawyers from various NUPL chapters agreed to start the preparation of cases to be filed against Duterte and to what it calls the “infrastructure of impunity” in the justice system or “those who shield these perpetrators from punishment and accountability.”
NUPL Chairperson Neri Colmenares said there will be more complaints to be filed against Duterte in international bodies like the United Nations. These complaints will serve as templates for cases that will be filed against Duterte once he is out of office.
Colmenares said since Duterte claims that he is immune from suit because he is sitting as president, they will, as of now, pursue more cases against him at the UN and other international mechanisms.
“Duterte cannot even promise members of the police and military that they will not go to prison because even he himself cannot escape criminal accountability once he steps down from office,” Colmenares said in a statement.
He cited Section 9 of RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, that stated, “official capacity as a head of state or government xxx shall in no cases exempt a person from criminal responsibility.”
‘Filing of voluminous cases’
NUPL President Edre Olalia said the NUPL congress resolved to start preparing criminal cases against State security forces who allegedly committed rights violations,
“We will also ask other lawyers groups to help in what we hope to be the filing of voluminous cases against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Our members all over the country will also file cases against members of the PNP who refuse to investigate the killings while filing harassment cases against activists,” said Olalia adding that they will also file cases against witnesses who commit perjury in the trumped up charges filed against activists.
He said they received reports of police’s scheme in filing cases against activists where they purposely use a false address so that the accused will not be able to answer the summons of the prosecutors.
“Should we find that prosecutors purposely and maliciously filed cases against activists without undertaking due diligence in ensuring that the accused are given the chance to counter these complaints, we will not hesitate to also file administrative cases against them,” he said.
Meanwhile, NUPL Secretary General Ephraim Cortez said that they will “exhaust all legal venues, both domestic and international, to provide legal remedy to the families of victims of human rights violations.”
The NUPL was founded in 2007 during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo where political killings and several other rights violations were committed against activists. They have been serving their clientele – the poor and the oppressed – for the past 12 years.