Lawyer who petitioned against Anti-Terror Act stabbed with screwdriver

Mar. 05, 2021

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A human rights lawyer who is among the co-counsel of a petition to the Supreme Court against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was stabbed in the head on Wednesday March 3, prompting colleagues to raise concern.

Atty. Angelo Guillen, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Assistant Vice President for Visayas, was reportedly stabbed in his head and shoulder with a screwdriver by two unidentified assailants in Iloilo City on Wednesday evening, March 3. Doctors had removed the screwdriver that lodged into his head and is now stable, according to NUPL Thursday.

Atty. Guillen serves as co-counsel in the Supreme Court petition filed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. There are 37 petitions filed by several groups on the said law.

Guillen had handled high-profile human rights cases in Visayas, including the case of activists arrested in police raids in Bacolod in October 2019 and of members of the Tumandok tribe in Panay who were arrested and tortured in December 2020.

Guillen was also arrested during the May 1 rally in Iloilo last year after responding to the illegal arrest of 42 activists protesting the extrajudicial killing of Bayan Muna coordinator Jory Porquia.

Escalating violence

In a joint statement, fellow lawyers and petitioners on the ATA called on the Supreme Court “to take immediate measures to stop these attacks.” The statement was signed by Atty. Jose Cadiz, Atty. Neri Colmenares, Atty. Ephraim Cortez, Atty. Algamar Latiph, Atty. Josalee Deinla, Atty. Howard Calleja, Congressman Edcel Lagman, Atty. Alfredo Molo III, and Atty. Evalyn Ursua.

“The issuance of a TRO on the enforcement of the ATA pending the final adjudication of the 37 petitions could help address the worsening situation,” their statement reads.

They also urged members of the legal profession and various law groups “to launch a more active and militant response to these attacks.”

“We call on the people to demand from the Government to stop the killings and the escalating violence and impunity that have seriously eroded the rule of law and our democratic order,” they added.

They mentioned that lawyers who are acting as counsel for the petitions on the ATA have received threats, including Ursua, who raised concern of suspected surveillance against her. Another co-counsel, Atty. Raffy Aquino, who is a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), was listed by state security forces as a “CPP/NPA member”.

They condemned such attacks made more intense by the government’s anti-communist task force spokesperson Gen. Antonio Parlade against lawyers and groups questioning the legality of the law.

NUPL also called for a prompt and proper investigation on the attempt on the life of their colleague.

Since June 2016, the lawyers’ group recorded at least 54 killings of lawyers and judges that are “prima facie related to their work.” (

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