By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged Congress to investigate the rampant red-tagging and undue investigation of lawyers, judges, and teachers by law enforcement agencies to ensure accountability and ensure their safety.
De Lima, a lawyer by profession, filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 689 seeking to enact measures that would secure the safety and welfare of professionals fighting injustice and serving the country.
“There is a clear pattern emerging that the PNP’s efforts against communist insurgency is directed towards professionals who are related to activist and progressive groups even without any proof of any crime committed by said professionals, much less of any wrongdoings,” she said.
“The professionals being targeted, from lawyers to judges, to teachers are lawfully exercising their professions, many of them serving our country in government posts,” she added.
Last March 10, just days after the supposed killings of activists in CALABARZON by authorities, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum circular ordering all its regional directors to list names of government employees who are allegedly proven to be members of progressive groups.
In the said memorandum circular, the DILG mentioned the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), both of which were tagged by DILG as communist-terrorist groups.
In filing SR No. 689, De Lima, a staunch social justice and human rights champion cited several instances where teachers and law professionals were targeted by authorities.
De Lima noted that Calbayog City Police Station Intelligence Chief Police Lt. Fernando Calabria Jr. wrote to the Calbayog City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Clerk of Court last March 12 asking for names of lawyers who allegedly represent Communist Terrorist Group personalities, their affiliations, client’s name, case filed, case status, and a “mode of neutralization”.
De Lima also cited, among others, PNP-CARAGA’s arrest of Assistant Principal Rosanilla “Lai” Consad of San Vicente National High School in Butuan City on March 19 on charges of attempted homicide shortly after she was red-tagged by PNP-CARAGA in their Facebook post alleging that she is an urban party committee member of the Communist Party of the Philippines – NPA – National Democratic Front Northeastern Committee.
The lady Senator from Bicol stressed that these professionals do not deserve the attacks that they have been subjected to because they are merely fulfilling their oaths to serve the country, fight injustice and help the oppressed.
“To target them for their heroism would be to violate the very principles upon which our democratic society is founded,” she said.
“For PNP to violate the privacy of their records based only on empty assertions that they are members of so-called ‘Communist Terrorist Groups’ is a clear violation of their right to due process and is ground for administrative and criminal liabilities on the part of the PNP,” she added.
De Lima said concerned authorities must investigate the matter and exact accountability so teachers, judges and lawyers can do their jobs without threats, harassment, intimidation or retribution, especially by our own law enforcement agencies.
“The serious and continuing threats against lawyers and judges, as the sentinels of the rule of law, and teachers, as guardians of learning sanctuaries, who are being victimized in their very offices and schools expose how the State, who is supposed to protect them, disregards the importance of rule of law and democracy,” she said.
Paragraph 17 of 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers mandates that “where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by authorities. (AI|MTVN)