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Lawyers unite to fight rights abuse

Manila (UCAN): A group of lawyers and law students launched an alliance called Lawyers Against Extrajudicial Killings in Manila on November 2 to coordinate a series of legal challenges to the thousands of drug-related killings and other human rights abuses committed by the agents of the administration of the president, Rodrigo Duterte.
In a strongly worded statement, the group called the assault on the poor and the drug trade being conducted by the government “a blatant disregard of the right to life.”
It says, “Thousands of poor and powerless victims have been targeted and brutally, nay mercilessly, executed by the state, its agents and proxies with blatant contempt and disregard of due process.” 
The group aims to hold forums nationwide and train paralegal volunteers to help the families of victims.
“With violence on all fronts... there is deep fear indeed among the living that death will come, for virtually any one, sooner or later to their door,” the statement says.
The group believes an effective solution to the drug problem is clearing the government of the officials who protect the drug syndicates.
The lawyers dismissed the government claim that its conduct of the drug war has popular support. 
Antonio La Vina, the former dean of the School of Government at Ateneo de Manila University, said the group’s advocacy goes beyond the drug-related killings and includes threats to freedom of expression and attacks against human rights defenders.
“We have never had a greater need for paralegal aid,” he said 
Edre Olalia, of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said there is a need to challenge “an array of authoritarian tactics” employed by the government, including random drug tests and the use of intelligence drop boxes and surveys that violate privacy.
La Vina said that surveys show that most Filipinos are concerned about extrajudicial killings and are scared that they could also fall victim.
“It is clear that there is no approval of its methods,” he said. 
“Our records speak for us,” Olalia continued, adding that members of the new alliance have consistently fought for human rights since the rule of late dictator and former president, Ferdinand Marcos, wielded terror in the nation.

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