Asia West Pacific 

Philippines: Visayas-Wide Consultation of Legal Professionals for the Defense of Human Rights

By Visayas NUPL Assembly, September 7, 2019, University of Cebu School of Law

The National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL)-Visayas Region held a consultation for the defense of human rights with the theme “Upholding the Rule of Law in Times of Impunity and Tyranny” at the University of Cebu School of Law Audio-Visual Room on September 7, 2019. NUPL is a national volunteer organization of human rights lawyers in the Philippines committed to the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights, especially of the poor and the oppressed.

Atty Neri Colmenares, keynote speaker, and foremost human rights lawyer openly discussed to the participants about the clear signs of impunity and tyranny in the Philippines. When the rule of law in a country is short-circuited, then impunity exists. When there is intolerance for dissent, then tyranny happens. In this situation, people will clamor for the upholding of the rule of law or justice.

A highlight in the assembly was the presentation of human rights violations cases in the Visayas. Waves of killings in Negros Island took place following the issuance of Memorandum Circular 32 on November 22, 2018. The Philippine President directed some national agencies to immediately coordinate the deployment of additional military and police forces in the Negros provinces, Samar provinces, and the Bicol region “to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror.”

One of the latest strings of killings took place from July 18 to July 28, 2019, with 21 casualties. The attacks happened in the victim’s homes in the late hours of the day. There is ongoing documentation of the killings and cases are being filed in the court.

Despite the grim situation at present, this team of lawyers insisted on upholding the rule of law. Kins joined the consultation and was very much reminded of the need for sharing the stories of what is happening on the ground, for constant support, and for lawyers to be very creative and objective in helping the people.