Initially, we thought that the best insult to an imagination gone berserk is to totally ignore it.
One Dr. Dante A. Ang, who appears to be the chairman emiritus of a certain media outfit called Manila Times, released today a screaming headline bylined by himself quoting a supposedly “highly placed source in the Office of the President” that “there is a plot to discredit the President and destabilize his government.”
Dr. Ang splattered a web-like “Association Matrix Between Bikoy and Ellen Tordesillas” spun by his anonymous source. It linked the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and practically all of its key officers and some members in allegedly distributing from critical media sources the false narratives of a certain “Bikoy” who appeared in a video of a supposed “narcolist” linking President Rodrigo Duterte and his family to the drug trade.
The fantastic, nay libelous, tale accuses the NUPL, “a leftist group,” of collaborating with all those media members named in the matrix of “collaborating with the Left in their effort to destabilize the government.” This was echoed by a disputably “eminent” columnist of the same paper.
This has certainly gone over the walls of credulity. It is absolutely false, totally baseless and completely ludicrous.
It is not only a bait to engage in absurd and endless tit for tat to distract us. And it would have been amusing were it not perilous to the safety, security, and liberty, if not the lives, of each of the 500 or so lawyers, law students, law professors, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers, and paralegals who are members of the NUPL in more than 20 chapters nationwide.
We do not want to shoot the messenger, in a manner of saying, but the writer’s open association to Speaker Gloria Arroyo and President Duterte, among others, say a lot where he is coming from. Basic it is that for evidence to be credible, it must not only be credible in itself but must also come from a credible source. And more so if it is cloaked under a fictitous anonymity that does not give the object of such calumny a fair chance to contest. And it added a dose of cyber razzle-dazzle for good measure in order to futilely give it a semblance of validity.
We are lawyers and are simply just too busy defending and promoting human rights especially of the basic sectors. We have our hands full advocating public interest issues. We do not have time for such hogwash accusations which will not even pass muster Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Many of us are even clueless about this “Bikoy” video, anectodally preferring to waste our time watching zanier spiels of “Bitoy” instead.
Let us cut to the chase and see why we are being villified. We have criticized the extrajudicial killings in the so-called drug war as early as July 4, 2016, long before many were jolted of this barbarity. We have filed cases before the Supreme Court and other fora questioning martial law, Marcos hero’s burial, the cybercrime law, power rate hikes, TRAIN tax law, SM trees snowballing, privatization of government hospitals, Boracay closure, EDCA, Human Security Act and many public interest cases. We questioned police shortcuts in the “drug war” and helped form
Manlaban sa EJK. We assisted in filing complaints before the International Criminal Court and before the different bodies of the UN. We helped prosecute in the International People’s Tribunal. We have represented Mary Jane Veloso, various political prisoners, dissenters and rallyists, the victims of Kidapawan and Sagay killings, the Kadamay urban poor in Pandi, the Nutrasia striking workers, the alternative media from DDoS cyber attacks, the ACT teachers who are profiled, Sr. Pat Fox, and many more. And we have filed cases against Mrs. Arroyo and her generals even as we have sent to jail her poster boy Gen. Jovito Palparan. We have multiple linkages and hosted international lawyers concerned with the attacks on our peers.
We stand by our record and integrity with the kind of passion of lawyering for the people that has put Ben Ramos and many of us in the crosshairs of those who want a monopoly of everything. And of course, we have Neri now slowly inching his way to the Senate, Kaloi incessantly articulating the people’s perspective in Congress and Edre who has publicly helped as legal consultant in the peace negotiations over the past five administrations.
So this story passing off as news coming at the heels of other attacks and smear campaign by the government and its proxies is plainly a demolition job.
Yes, first they came for the activists, then the indigenous people, then the peace consultants, religious, farmers, opposition, then the media, and now the lawyers. Who’s next?
We will not blink nor look the other way. We are unfazed even as we are disturbed. In the ultimate analysis, who really is running scared here?
We will just do our job based on our mandate, priorities and capacity.
Criticism is not ousting. Lawyering is not destabilizing.
At bottom, this allegation is not worth the paper it is written on. It is putrid rubbish. Garbage in — and so must — garbage out.#
NUPL National Executive Board
Neri Javier Colmenares
Chairperson (0917) 835 0459
Edre U. Olalia
Ephraim B. Cortez
(0917) 546 5798
Carlos Isagani Zarate
(0917) 717 4014