An organization of lawyers has denied allegations it forced two detained Aeta tribesmen to sign a Supreme Court (SC) pleading for their inclusion as petitioners in 37 cases which sought to declare as unconstitutional the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), in a statement, responded to the manifestation of Solicitor General Jose C. Calida during Tuesday’s, Feb. 9, oral arguments at the SC that Aeta tribesmen Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos had withdrawn their petition which they did not want to sign.
In his manifestation, Calida claimed that the filing of the petition for intervention by the two Aeta tribesmen was “a desperate attempt to establish actual justiciable controversy” that would warrant the SC to exercise jurisdiction over the 37 cases against ATA.
Calida then submitted to the SC video clips, copies of transcripts and affidavits authenticating the videos on the withdrawal of the petition.
The NUPL said it was able to confer with one of its members, lawyer Julian Oliva, who had Gurung and Ramos sign the pleading at the Olongapo City Jail.
It also said: “Atty. Oliva carefully, meticulously and clearly explained to the two Aetas what the Petition-in-Intervention was all about, its relation and its effect on the charges against them, and related points”.
Gurong and Ramos have been charged with ATA violations last September before the Olongapo City regional trial court (RTC).
“There was no coercion, force, deceit, misrepresentation, favor or any other act or omission that vitiated the free, prior and informed consent of the Aetas to agree to the filing of the Petition-in-Intervention as the well-documented (videos and photos) consultations with Atty. Oliva was conducted before a long table separated by a plastic barrier within sight and hearing distance of the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) guards,” the NUPL said.
“In fact, it was a long and tedious process that is why the Petition-in-Intervention was only filed in the morning of the Oral arguments on February 2, 2021,” it added.
Gurong and Ramos’ petition for intervention has been denied by the SC during its full court session last Tuesday, Feb. 9.
The denial was announced by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta after Calida made his manifestation of the issue involving Gurong and Ramos.