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Human rights lawyer stabbed in Iloilo

Panay Today photo

A human rights lawyer, who has handled cases of activists in Negros Occidental and of the “Sagay 9,” was stabbed by unidentified men in Iloilo City on Wednesday night, March 3.

Lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in Panay Island, was tailed by two masked men and stabbed with a screwdriver.

The perpetrators then took his bags, which contained his laptop and case documents, and fled.

He was rushed to the hospital for treatment and is now in stable condition.

Rene Estocapio, NUPL vice president for Visayas, in a statement, said Guillen served as counsel in various public interest and human rights cases. He was also one of the 37 petitioners questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Guillen also represented activists and human rights defenders facing trumped-up charges in court, including the activists arrested during the police raids in Bacolod City in October 2019, and one of the lawyers of the victims of the Sagay massacre in 2018.

He also represented the Tumandoks, the Indigenous Peoples in Panay, who were killed and arrested in police operations in Iloilo and Capiz in December 2020, Estocapio said.

On Labor Day last year, Guillen was arrested after responding to the illegal arrest of 42 activists who were protesting the extrajudicial killing of Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator Jory Porquia, he added.

“NUPL calls on authorities to promptly and properly investigate the attempt on the life of Atty. Guillen. Since June 2016, NUPL has recorded at least 54 killings of lawyers and judges that are prima facie related to their work,” Estocapio said.

In December 2020, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NUPL, and various legal groups raised concerns over the increasing and alarming incidents of attacks on lawyers before the Supreme Court, he added.

Karapatan Negros Island and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Negros, in a statement, said: the masked assailant stabbed Guillen in the face and at the back using a screwdriver “to make it look like a common crime.”

“But we cannot be fooled by this because we know for a fact that the state and its security forces have been targeting Atty. Guillen as well as other lawyers handling cases of activists not only in Panay but in Negros as well. We demand an immediate investigation,” the groups said.*

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