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Human rights lawyers Czarina Golda Musni and Edre Olalia testified how red-tagging of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers endangers their lives. Bulatlat photo by Ronalyn V. Olea

Cagayanon testifies before CA vs red-tagging

National Union of People’s Lawyer president Edre Olalia and Czarina Golda Musni, a member of the NUPL and Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, took the witness stand and testified how the military’s red tagging constitutes a violation of their rights to life and liberty before the Court of Appeals-Special 15th Division late last week.

Olalia said red tagging in the country is “a license for attacks.” He cited the assassination of Benjamin Ramos, who was labeled as a communist and threatened before he was killed.

Musni, meanwhile, told the court that she, her mother Beverly and her sister Beverly YR were labeled as communist members/sympathizers in leaflets distributed by state agents in Cagayan de Oro City and Malaybalay City.

During cross-examination, Assistant Solicitor General Marlon Bosantog asked Musni how could a leaflet be considered a threat.

Musni replied, “If you study the case of Ben Ramos and other victims of extrajudicial killings, they were identified, vilified and tagged as members or sympathizers of the CPP-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army] before they were killed.”

Bosantog asked if Musni’s family members are still alive. To which Musni replied, “Yes, they are. Thank God.”

Olalia said some of their members suffer from fear and anxiety because of the “vicious labeling.”

However, military officials tagged as respondents in the writ of amparo petition filed by the NUPL did not show up at the hearing.

Even Major Gen. Antonio Parlade, Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations, who has been consistent in publicly red tagging the NUPL was a no-show.

“They don’t even show up, they don’t have the audacity to even show up and stand on their ground,” Olalia said referring to the military respondents.

The SC has granted the petitions for writ of amparo and habeas data filed by NUPL last May 3.

The next hearing is set tomorrow. (bulatlat.com)

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