To advance its advocacy for human rights, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in coordination with CERNET spearheaded the 1st Visayas People’s Lawyer’s Conference. It was held on May 26- 27, 2012 at Rajah Park Hotel, Cebu City.
Lawyers and paralegals from different regions in the Visayas such as Negros Oriental, Eastern Visayas, Panay, Cebu and Negros attended the said conference.
National figures such as Satur Ocampo, former Congressman and MAKABAYAN convenor, and Representative Neri Colminares of BAYANMUNA graced the event to give inputs and discussions.
The conference- workshop groups tackled actual cases of different provinces in the Visayas to determine the appropriate actions such as filing of cases and prosecuting violators of human rights. The result of the 2- day workshop was a Visayas- wide coordinating committee to keep track of the plans made of the respective groups.
Repeal Ordinance No. 5
One of the cases discussed was the two separate cases for violation of Provincial Ordinance No. 5 which has been filed against three human rights workers and are pending before the inferior court in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.
In a position paper for the repeal of Ordinance No. 5, the group said that the ordinance is being used by the military to harass human rights and development workers who deliver basic services to marginalized people in far- flung areas.
For the repeal of Provincial Ordinance No. 5, NUPL Visayas’ lawyers and paralegals held a case conference and filed a petition at the Court of Appeals- Cebu on June 18, 2012 declaring the Ordinance as “unconstitutional”. On the other hand, a Writ of Amparo for the case of Eastern Visayas/ Samar was filed in Cebu in June 2012 and criminal cases and administrative cases in July 2012.
NUPL- Visayas reiterated their unity to repeal Ordinance No. 5 declaring that it is unconstitutional and invalid, vague, invalid exercise of police power, redundant, violates the right of citizens to travel, and discourage NGO activities that benefit poor communities.
With this, a solidarity group was formed in Negros Oriental to lobby for the repeal of the said ordinance. Another gain for the fight against the repressive Ordinance was the congressional inquiry undertaken on October 6, 2012 in coordination with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in Cebu. CERNET was tasked to convene the prospective witnesses from the other parts of the Visayas.
NUPL lawyers with CERNET also conducted a jail visit of a political prisoner last September 14, 2012.