Lawyers Vow Fight for Civil Liberties & Human Rights

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Lawyers and law students, organized by various legal organizations, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) led by IBP President Jose Anselmo Cadiz, yesterday declared they will continue their fight for civil liberties and human rights even after President Arroyo lifted Proclamation 1017 declaring the nation under a state of emergency.

Members of the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL), a newly formed broad coalition of legal organizations, marched from the IBP office to the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City in defiance of the government prohibition on mass protests and street actions.

"Our struggle continues to assert civil liberties and human rights under President Arroyoas administration," Counsel for the Defense of Liberties (Codal) lawyer Neri Colmenares, one of the CLCL convenors, said.

"We still condemn the calibrated pre-emptive response (CPR) and Executive Order 464, issued by Mrs. Arroyo to ensure observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive privilege, and respect for the rights of public officials appearing in legislative inquiries in aid of legislation under the Constitution," Colmenares said.

"We were able to reach the steps of EDSA Shrine without being blocked by the police personnel deployed near the Shrine. It was unusual," he added.

Some 600 lawyers and law students marched from the IBP office to the Shrine, with former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., IBP President Cadiz, and lawyers Rene Saguisag and Frank Chavez leading the march.

The law students participating in the march were from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila University, Manuel L. Quezon University, and San Sebastian College.

Other convenors were Pacifico Agabin, Civil Liberties Union of the Philippines; Marlon Manuel Mendoza, Alternative Law Group; Tanya Lat, Young Lawyers League; and Chito Gascon, Libertas. The group agreed on three points in a meeting at the IBP office after the march.

The concerned lawyers agreed to issue a statement in condemnation of the warrantless arrests against members of the House of Representatives. They also urged the Supreme Court (SC) to rule on Proclamation 1017, which declared the nation under a state of emergency.

The IBP and CLCL members will form a legal services committee to provide legal counsel to individuals arrested or detained for violation of Proclamation 1017. They would also file criminal, administrative, and civil cases against police and military personnel who conducted the arrests of individuals and raid media organizations.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez, chief legal counsel of Akbayan Citizensa Action Party, said the Bill of Rights of the Constitution is not a Bill of Suggestions. "The rights guaranteed there are concrete restrictions on the exercise of the state of its powers. The right to free speech and free assembly, for instance, are non-derogable even in a state of emergency or martial law," Gutierrez said.

Senators still jittery over the lifting of Proclamation 1017


Senators remain jittery over the lifting of Presidential Proclamation 1017 yesterday noon, saying damage has already been done.

President Arroyo announced the termination of the proclamation upon recommendation from her security advisers who thought the countryas political situation is back to normal. …