DAVAO CITY – A human rights advocate group urged lawmakers to create a law preventing the filing of charges against human rights defenders.
Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said “trumped up charges against progressive leaders show that there is a legal offensive taken by government forces against leaders of mass movements.”
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.
The case against 13 individuals arrested in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last month were also dismissed by the court.
“The filing of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) show 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,” said Suazo.
In a House Bill proposed by Bayan Muna Partylist on July 1, 2013, it said the term SLAPP “was coined in the 1980s by University of Denver professors Penelope Canan and George W. Pring.”
Bayan Muna said “(i)t was originally defined as “a lawsuit involving communications made to petition for a governmental action or outcome, which resulted in a baseless suit filed against individuals or non-governmental organizations, on a substantive issue of some public interest or social significance.”
“It has since been defined more broadly to include suits arising from speech on any public issue,” it said.
Suazo said the charges “mock 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.
“By creating an anti-SLAPP law, we pray that democratic process is protected against the intensifying attacks to people’s movements and the cause they banner,” she said. (davaotoday.com)