The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) assailed a newspaper article on Monday, April 22, linking them to an alleged plot to oust and discredit President Rodrigo Duterte and the government.
Newspaper The Manila Times published a matrix connecting the NUPL, particularly their key members, to a series of Youtube videos entitled ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’ posted by a certain ‘Bikoy’, a self-confessed former member of an illegal drug syndicate. The videos implicated family members and allies of the President to the illegal drug trade.
In a statement, the NUPL stressed that their alleged connection to the videos of Bikoy, which they called false narratives, to be ‘absolutely false, totally baseless and completely ludicrous’. They also called and described the article as ‘a demolition job’ and ‘putrid rubbish’.
“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,” the NUPL said.
The group believes that the matrix, which came from a source in the Office of the President, serves as a bait to engage in absurd and endless tit for tat to distract them.
NUPL added that the matrix endangers the safety, security, liberty, and lives of at least 500 members of the NUPL, which have more than 20 chapters all over the Philippines.
The lawyers’ group also said that they are simply just too busy defending and promoting human rights especially of the basic sectors. They even claimed that some of their members did not know about the videos posted by ‘Bikoy’.
“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,” the NUPL insisted.
NUPL believes that the allegations against them stemmed from their criticisms against alleged extrajudicial killings in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. The group also mentioned that they filed cases in the Supreme Court to question the actions of the Duterte Administration including the ongoing martial law in Mindanao, the heroes burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the closure of Boracay, and others.
“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,” the NUPL said.
“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,” the NUPL added.
The NUPL also criticized the writer of the article, Dr. Dante Ang, due to his connection with President Duterte and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom the group has previously filed charges against. The group also questioned Ang’s citation of an anonymous source for his article.
“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,” the NUPL said.
“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,” the NUPL added.
Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher ‘Bong’ Go, one of the allies of the President named in the videos of ‘Bikoy’, debunked the allegations against him by showing his back to the media. The videos claimed that Go has a dragon tatoo in his back, which signifies his membership to an illegal drug syndicate.
Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo has already admitted that the matrix published by The Manila Times came from the Office of the President.