Solon assails PNP for asking list of lawyers defending suspected communists

Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party-List Representative France Castro on Saturday criticized the Philippine National Police (PNP) for asking a court for a list of lawyers and human rights defenders representing alleged communists.

Castro said the PNP used this modus operandi (MO) against teachers and teachers’ union during its profiling campaign in early 2018 and is now using the same MO on lawyers representing ‘’Communist Terrorist Group (CTG)’’ personalities in the court.

In the letter dated yesterday, March 12, to the Office of the Clerk of Court, Hall of Justice, Barangay Capoocan, Calbayog City, Police Lieutenant Fernando Calabria Jr., Calbayog police intelligence officer, asked that he be furnished with the list of the lawyers for submission to ‘’higher PNP offices.’’

PNP Officer-in-Charge Guillermo Eleazar was reported this morning to have ordered the relief of Calabria and also a probe into Calabria’s ‘’serious breach of policy.’’

Castro said that it is clear that Calabria’s action had the blessings of the PNP leadership ‘’at maging ang pinaka-Tsip ng buong kapulisan—ang Pangulong Duterte mismo (and even the overall chief – President Duterte).

‘’Maitim na pakana na naman ito ng NTF ELCAC na hindi bumibitaw sa kasinungalingan nito na ang mga progresibo ay rebelde at kalaban ng estado (The dark objective of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict {NTF-ELCAC} is not to let go of its lies that all progressive element are rebels fighting the State),’’ Castro added.

‘’These hit lists send the signal that one should stay silent about legitimate causes and demands, if he or she does not want to be called a ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist front’, and other malicious yet baseless labels,’’ Castro explained.

In a statement, Castro said: ‘’We demand all courts of the country not to follow this blatantly illegal "request" of the PNP, the Calbayog police, and any other units of the PNP. We urge the Supreme Court to call out the PNP and the NTF ELCAC and to act against this patent threat against lawyers and their clients. This is another reason why a TRO against the terror law is urgent. This is even a brazen contempt of the court, given that it targets—without the slightest amount of evidence—lawyers who are called ‘officers of the courts’.’’