MANILA, Philippines — The Aetas who filed a petition earlier than the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act were not forced to take action, progressive teams Karapatan and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) insisted in separate statements on Tuesday.
The two teams issued the statements after the most recent listening to of oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act.
They denied the allegation of Solicitor General Jose Calida that the Aetas did not need to signal the petition within the first place.
“The two Aetas were ‘not forced to sign,’” the NUPL stated. “In fact, they could not read or write.”
The Aetas, in accordance with the NUPL, “just affixed their thumbmarks” on the mandatory paperwork, together with the ultimate draft petition-in-intervention, after it was mentioned with them “patiently.”
NUPL legal professionals are representing the Aetas — Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos — who were allegedly tortured by navy officers throughout an anti-communist insurgency operation, led by the Philippine Army’s seventh Infantry Division, in San Marcelino, Zambales.
The union stated that Ramos willingly affixed his thumbmark within the petition, whereas Gurung adopted go well with after discussing the difficulty along with his family members.
A notary public, the NUPL stated, visited the Aetas in jail on Jan. 31 and requested them if the petition had been defined to them earlier than notarizing the doc.
During the oral arguments on the Supreme Court, Calida stated that the Aetas were withdrawing their petition and were now not represented by NUPL however by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
After Calida made the revelation, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta additionally revealed that the court docket had unanimously denied the petition.
Karapatan questioned the timing of the alleged withdrawal of the petition.
“Calida’s attempt at dropping a supposedly explosive bombshell during the oral arguments on the petitions against Duterte’s terror law — that the draconian law’s first victims […] have supposedly withdrawn their petition for intervention before the Supreme Court — should raise eyebrows, suspicion, and above all, questions,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, stated.
“Also, why now? The [NUPL] has been representing them ever since the charges were filed against them on September 14, 2020. Is it because the case of Gurung and Ramos and the suffering they endured will inevitably become the centerpoint of the oral arguments on the terror law — such that their case shows concretely the law’s dangers and why it should be junked?” she stated.
For its half, the NUPL stated it will “formally address in writing” Calida’s manifestation and the court docket’s denial of the petition.
It stated it will first look ahead to the court docket decision denying the petition.
As it occurred the 2 Aetas filed their petition simply because the much-anticipated oral argument on the anti-terror law had already been scheduled for Feb. 2.
The petition stirred some controversy when Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade branded as “fake news” the report written about it by INQUIRER.web’s Tetch Torres-Tupas.
Parlade is the chief of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Journalists and media teams and journalists — and even lawmakers from each the Senate and the House of Representatives — slammed Parlade, stating that the report was based mostly on the petition that the Aetas filed earlier than the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, activists and advocates of indigenous folks’s rights stated that the arrested Aetas were accused of being members of the New People’s Army and that they were tortured and fed with human feces.
The navy, together with Parlade, denied these claims.
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