IBP to gov’t: Right the wrong and set firm policies vs red-tagging
MANILA, Philippines — The national organization of lawyers has called on the government to “right the wrong and set firm policies against red-tagging” as it disregards due process, rule of law, and weakens the State.
“False and reckless publications, shortcuts, and questionable means destroy the very rights, public interests, or principles that we all seek to protect. They weaken the State we claim to defend,” the Integrated Bar of the Philippines led by Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa, its national President and chairman of the IBP Board of Governors said in a statement.
IBP is the mandatory organization of lawyers with over 60,000 members. It was established as an official organization for the legal profession by Republic Act 6397.
The IBP issued the statement after the military posted on social media a list of graduates from the University of the Philippines (UP) who became members of the New People’s Army that are either dead or captured.
Some of those tagged on the list were the late stage and film director Behn Cervantes, playwright Liza Magtoto, lawyers Raffy Aquino and Alex Padilla, former Environment Undersecretary Elmer Mercado, former lawmaker and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, former government official Atty. Alexander Padilla, human rights lawyer Atty. Rafael Angelo Aquino, and Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia president Liza Dacanay.
“The named lawyers are not members of the New People’s Army (NPA). They were never captured. They are very much alive, not dead. They are responsible and respected Filipino lawyers who serve well our country in various capacities and meaningfully contribute to nation-building,” the IBP said.
Atty. Roan Libarios is a past IBP National President and Chairman of its 20th Board of Governors. He was Editor-In-Chief of the U.P. Collegian, Vice Governor of Agusan del Norte, Congressman of the Second Legislative District of Agusan Del Norte, member of the GRP Peace Panel, and member of the 2018 Consultative Committee on Charter Change.
Atty. Alexander Padilla was President of the U.P. Law Student Government, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Interior and Local Government, Commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Commissioner of Customs, Undersecretary of Health, President of PhilHealth, and GRP Chief Peace Negotiator.
Atty. Rafael Angelo Aquino was a U.P. student leader and is Legal Counsel of Rotary International District 3830, senior partner of a private law firm, and a volunteer lawyer of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) already apologized for the mistake which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza called an “unpardonable gaffe.”
This is not the first time that the military has red-tagged individuals. Lawyers representing peasant workers and farmers have been included in flyers distributed in provinces identifying them as members of the Communist group.
Last year, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) was grilled by lawmakers for sharing unverified Facebook posts against members of progressive groups.
The IBP calls out misleading claims not only for the sake of its members but for all victims of similar red-tagging.
“If lawyers and people of stature are put in jeopardy because of red-tagging, we cannot disregard the terror and prejudice that it brings to ordinary citizens who have no means or opportunity to clear themselves as they are unduly threatened, attacked, or even killed by the misguided and unscrupulous,” the IBP said.
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