DAVAO CITY- Amid the dismissal of trumped up charges against progressive leaders, a human rights group urged lawmakers today to create legislation that will prevent in the filing of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).
Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the two sets of cases dismissed last week shows that there is a legal offensive taken by government forces against leaders of mass movements.
“It is clear that the military, along with government collaborators, are much eager to curtail the legitimate assertions of progressive groups who are advancing the needs of the majority, and in doing so run against the corporate and violent interests of the few elite in the country.”
“This they have done by filing SLAPP charges against us, to burden us with the needs to answer these cases and hamper our efforts,” Suazo added.
13 individuals were illegally arrested in Kitaotao Bukidnon last month, only for the charges of rebellion filed against them to be dismissed.
Earlier this month, a resolution from the City Prosecutor’s Office declared the dismissal of the charges against 15 members of the support groups for the lumad evacuees in Haran.
Signatory to the charges was Nestor Apas, a known anti-lumad government collaborator.
“Clearly, these SLAPP cases don’t have a kernel of truth in them, and to allow these scenarios to repeat itself in the future would be tantamount to playing jokes with the justice system.”
“It is a bastardization of the courts, as powerful organizations and individuals think that they can fabricate evidence and manipulate the legal processes, to falsely criminalize progressive action,” Suazo added.
“It is high time that we challenge lawmakers to revive the anti-SLAPP legislative action. Otherwise, they are allowing the likes of Nestor Apas to flex and trample the otherwise rigorous and just system of law in the country.”
“By creating an anti-SLAPP law, we ensure that the democratic process is protected against the intensifying attacks to people’s movements and the cause they banner.”
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO