The Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) is troubled of and outraged by the public statements of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, using the country’s highest office to again red tag Carlos Isagani T. Zarate and other progressive representatives and their organizations.
It is beneath UPLM to even address the heaping of personal – not fact-based – insults on its Past Chairman and present adviser Zarate.
One of the most productive members of the House of Representatives, Zarate has authored and co-authored legislations aimed at protecting the rights and uplifting the lives of the marginalized sectors which he and the Makabayan bloc truly represent. He abides by the legal process as shown by his resort to the Supreme Court as one of the petitioners seeking the nullity of the widely dreaded Anti-Terror Act (ATA).
The insistent red tagging officially done by no less than the President poses a clear and present danger on the lives of Zarate and all human rights lawyers and defenders. We must always be warned of those red tagged and eventually murdered like Atty. Benjamin Ramos and Atty. Anthony Trinidad, who were among the 53 lawyers, prosecutors and judges killed under the Duterte administration since 2016.
A threat on Zarate is a grave threat on all legislators who are fulfilling their mandate and on all human rights defenders who remain true to their lawyers’ oath. These threats are glaring violations of rights under our Philippine Constitution and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We salute and respect the professionalism of Zarate by focusing on and not diverting from the legitimate issues that should be discussed by legislators. We are even more inspired by the uncompromising principles of human rights defenders and legislators who continue to work even harder always within the framework of the Constitution and the laws.
We enjoin the public, especially our brothers and sisters in the legal profession, to loudly repeat our urgent call to stop red tagging and vilifications by the government in the spirit of due process.