MANILA, Philippines — Charges of qualified theft will be filed against members of the raiding team who confiscated lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr.’s computer, laptop and cell phone, various lawyers’ organizations said Saturday after they condemned the lawyer’s “abduction and illegal arrest.”
“We will file criminal and administrative cases against public officials who facilitated the illegal arrest and harassment case against Atty. Saladero and false witnesses who committed perjury in their affidavits,” the organizations said in a press statement e-mailed to media outfits.
The organizations include the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), as well as the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), SENTRA, the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), the Public Interest Legal Center (PILC), and the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL)-Philippines Chapter
Saladero, the chief legal counsel of the militant labor alliance Kilusang Mayo Uno (May One Movement), was taken from his house in Antipolo City on purported murder charges. He is now in jail in Mindoro.
“The Supreme Court had chastised the Department of Justice for ‘prostituting their office to harass political opponents of President Arroyo. We will make sure that those responsible for the travesty of Atty. Saladero’s right to due process will be held liable for their participation in the scheme to harass a human rights lawyer who sacrificed so much for the interest of human rights,” they warned.
At the same time, they also asked the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and other professional legal organizations both here and abroad to condemn “this brazen attack on the legal profession” and help release Saladero from detention.
They said the charges against Saladero are trumped up and false. “Saladero, a veteran practicing labor lawyer, is not a member of the New People’s Army and is not a fugitive. He has been openly litigating in courts and has never been involved in any way in any case of arson to blow up Globe cell sites,” they said.
The lawyers groups said the attack against Saladero is a violation of his right to due process as he was never informed of the complaint against him and thus unable to defend himself before the arrest warrant was issued.
They said the labor lawyer’s arrest and detention is also an attack against all lawyers, arguing that Saladero was being harassed for the exercise of his profession.
“The case filed against Saladero is part of the Arroyo government’s attempt to cow human rights advocates critical of [its] policies,” they said, noting that Saladero had argued before the Supreme Court the constitutionality of the President’s calibrate pre-emptive response policy.
Saladero, a lawyer for suspected members of the New Peoples’ Army in Rizal, also handles nearly 700 labor cases before various tribunals.
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