LEGAL SERVICES AND ADVOCACY UPDATES
by Katrina Coloso
To continue 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 Colmenares of BAYAN MUNA 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 coordinating committee to keep track of the plans made during the workshops.
One of the cases discussed was the two separate case for violation of the ordinance had been filed against three human rights workers and are pending before the inferior court in Sta.Catalina, Negros Oriental.
The ordinance is also being used by the military to harass human rights and development workers who deliver basic services to marginalizes people in far-flung areas.
For the repeal of Provincial Ordinance No. n5 , NUPL Visayas’ lawyers and paralegals held a filed a petition at the Court of Appeals-Cebu on July 18, 2012 declaring the ordinance as “unconstitutional”. 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. The LSA was also instrumental in the formation of a solidarity group 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 on October 11, 2012, which was initiated by NUPL and CERNET.
From June 2011 to December 2012, the Legal Service desk formed three sectoral committees for workers or urban poor, peasants, and Human Rights in Cebu with each committee composed of a pool of lawyers and paralegals respectively. It has also established new linkages with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Dumaguete, and the Southwestern University College of Law in Cebu City.
Furthermore, the LSA desk has assisted and defended three cases of two PO partners while two PO partners ( NAKALAP and AMA-Sugbo) have also availed legal assistance from networks.