Karapatan backs NUPL amid CA’s denial of temporary protection order request

In a resolution dated July 11, the Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the National Union of People’s Lawyers’ (NUPL) request for a temporary protection order (TPO) “which is an ancillary remedy to the privilege of the writ of amparo.” If granted, the protection order would have prohibited state forces from threatening and harassing the members of the lawyers’ group, but the court’s Special 15th Division rejected the application.
“Karapatan expresses its support for embattled lawyers of the NUPL in these efforts to seek legal protection from state-perpetrated violations, harassment, vilification, and intimidation. Through the years, its member-lawyers have been subjected to attacks initiated by State forces,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General said.

In the decision, the CA said that there is no need to issue a TPO independently of the lawyers’ group because the Supreme Court (SC) has already issued a writ of amparo in favor of them, but according to NUPL, what the SC earlier granted “was only the writ and not yet the privilege of the writ.”

“As the writ of amparo is meant to prevent threats from becoming an actual violation, it is alarming that the appeals court denied the NUPL’s application for a TPO amid the existing harassment that the lawyers’ group is already receiving. The CA should see the urgency of granting the legal protection because of the constant and orchestrated red-tagging and villification,” she said.

“State-sponsored threats must be seen in the context of a pattern that have led to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,” Palabay added.

In the CA decision, the court said that the writ of amparo only covers extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and not the prevention of the issuance of public statements maligning the petitioners and their activities as human rights lawyers.

“We call on the court to grant the NUPL’s application for a TPO. With the intensified attacks and crackdown initiated by this government against various organizations and individuals, it is lamentable that our courts have routinely rejected such petitions, contrary to the spirit and intent of such legal remedy. Several groups have already filed the same applications because of the actual threats we are receiving, alongside the number of killings of human rights defenders and peasants in the countryside, yet these efforts are being obstructed. This pattern speaks of the failure of domestic remedies to provide justice for victims of human rights violations, contrary to pronouncements of Duterte,” Palabay concluded.