CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The killing of two lawyers in the Maguindanao Massacre punctuated the gathering of almost a hundred lawyers and paralegal staff during the 3rd assembly of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) held in Philtown Hotel, this city.
The laywers are also set to collaborate with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to seek justice for the Maguindanao massacre victims.
CHR chairperson Leila de Lima discussed with the UPLM about a possible collaboration in dealing with the Maguindanao Massacre.
According to Atty. Eduardo Estores, chairperson of UPLM in Davao City, “Our gathering is made more significant by the recent killing of our colleagues who were supposed to join us today. We will ensure that this assembly will exhaust discussion on legal remedies and actions that we will undertake to seek justice for our slain colleagues in Maguindanao.”
Members of the UPLM Atty. Concepcion Brizuela and Atty. Cynthia Oquendo were among the victims of the Maguindanao massacre last Monday.
“We have expressed our condemnation and now we are in the process of taking actions to help in ensuring that justice will be served to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre,” Estores said.
During the UPLM assembly, chairperson De Lima gave an input on “Promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedom: Challenges to public interest lawyering.”
De Lima in her speech before almost a hundred lawyers and paralegals from all-over Mindanao stressed that the CHR will not be able to carry out the independent parallel investigation without the help of other organizations especially lawyers.
According to Atty. Carlos Zarate, secretary-general of UPLM, the assembly of people’s lawyers is set to craft a campaign plan for justice for all the victims of Ampatuan massacre.
“We will be closely working with the Commission on Human Rights and other independent investigative bodies such as the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines for our cooperation in the investigations,” Zarate said.
“Because we are up against an institution that has been there for so long a time, displaying grave abuse of power and elite warlordism, we need to muster all possible areas of cooperation with human rights groups and press freedom advocates,” he said.
“The group has also agreed in principle that we will file a resolution that will request the government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government to temporarily suspend the administrative functions of the Governor of ARMM Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and Shariff Aguak Mayor Zaldy Ampatuan to pave way for a speedy and impartial investigation,” Zarate said.
“That is just one of the plans but definitely before this assembly ends we will come up with a more comprehensive campaign plan for the Maguindanao massacre victims,” he said.
The lawyers will be holding a candle-lighting rally from Kiosko Kagawasan to the Press Freedom monument Mac-arthur Park in Cagayan de Oro City this afternoon.
Atty. Carlos Zarate
Mobile phone number: 0917-7174014