Alamon: The state we are in

IN THE headlines recently this week is the red-tagging of the two women Musni lawyers of Cagayan de Oro City.

Statements identifying the lawyers as members of the Communist Party were reportedly circulated ironically in a press conference denouncing the rise of human rights violations in the city. An iteration of the same red-tagging statement was reportedly also distributed in a prestigious university seriously maligning the students and faculty of the school.

In the interest of full disclosure, the two young women lawyers are my contemporaries in Corpus Christi High School, although I am sure they would say that I am several years senior of them. Lawyer Beverly Selim-Musni is a veritable institution in the city as a renowned women rights’ advocate and human rights lawyer.

Musni women lawyers released a joint statement in the aftermath that beautifully rebuts the accusations and reveals these to be the same old attempts to prevent them from serving their clients who are disadvantaged in the bar of law, and those who came from the indigenous and peasant classes.

To this recent challenge, they eloquently retort that they shall continue to serve their brave clients as they did before. These are commitments to the poor and downtrodden which they have taken on as duties for life, they clarified. These three women lawyers declared that they shall not be deterred.

In the same red-tagging statement was also the name of a local journalist and friend, Cong Corrales. Obviously, he is also one of the target because of his profession as editor and columnist of a local newspaper. It is certainly foul and unprincipled that his wife and son were included in the red-tagging list as a form of crude harassment, not that we would think the perpetrators to be principled and circumspect in their ways.

Cong’s only fault perhaps is that he possesses one of the more witty and uncompromising voices in the local mass media. But just like the Musni women, Cong has also declared that he will not be shaken in his beliefs and advocacies.

These brave responses to the frontal attack against local lawyers and journalists is at best encouraging indices of what this repressive regime will be facing as they continue with their attacks under the blanket of impunity provided by their principal.

But even as we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Musni's and the Corrales' esteemed and original residents of this beloved city of ours, let us also be cognizant of what these attacks signal in general and where has this administration brought our so-called democratic ways of life.

There seems to be a logic to the design. They began by arresting, based on trumped-up charges, leaders of people and indigenous organizations as well as development workers accusing them of being rebels usually with planted guns and bombs upon arrest. The bigger the cache of arms, the better, since these crimes are deemed non-bailable by the courts and they will indefinitely languish in jail unable to defend their advocacies. The first line of defense of rural communities from the onslaught of militarization followed by the entry of extractive industries is, thereby, neutralized through this crude extra-legal process.

It is then followed by this list which has identified esteemed individuals in the professions of law and journalism. With the first line of defense for community-based human rights defenders sent away in jail or in many cases killed or made to disappear, neutralizing the lawyers and journalists who would come at their defense is the logical next step.

It could begin with threats like this but could end up in cold-blooded murder like the case of lawyer Ben Ramos in Negros, variable attempts to neutralize the defenders of the defenders.

What all these signals is the unmistakable descent of the rule of tyranny into our communities here in the south where state forces pursue their objectives impervious to the rule of law and the systems of checks and balances that are sacred to the practices of democracy. The recent attacks on our local lawyers and journalists are irrefutable evidences of the dangerous state we are in.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.