'Red-tagged' anti-mining lawyer survives ambush in Capiz

MANILA, Philippines – An anti-mining lawyer survived a shooting attack on her vehicle morning on Monday, September 23, with several groups condemning sustained attacks and threats against human rights lawyers and workers.

Cris Heredia was on board a vehicle with her daughter and client in Panit-an Capiz at around 11:30am when her car was hit, leaving two bullet holes, said the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) Panay chapter.

Heredia, an NUPL member, is an anti-mining activist who has been a victim of red-tagging, or the linking to armed communist rebels or the New People's Army (NPA.)

"Atty. Heredia has been red-tagged in posters and has been personally threatened by a military agent who visited her office and warned her to slow down on her human rights advocacy," NUPL-Panay said in a statement. (READ: Duterte's war on dissent)

Along with 11 other NUPL lawyers, Heredia was included in a poster that had the caption "Minions of the Community Party of the Philippines." 

According to rights group Karapatan, Heredia was also part of a group what was tailed after visiting the wake of another slain NUPL lawyer, Ben Ramos, on December 11, 2018.

"We attribute this attack to the vicious and ruthless state forces of the Duterte government, given Atty. Heredia’s work and advocacy for political prisoners and for the marginalized," said Karapatan.

In NUPL's count, as of September 23, 2019, there have been 47 judges, prosecutors and lawyers killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016. 

The NUPL and Karapatan have tried to secure a writ of amparo from the Court of Appeals, but both lost their petitions, highlighting the weakness of the rules on the writ in addressing threats to liberty especially at a volatile time.

An international delegation of lawyers said the Duterte government has not done an effective investigation into the killings in the legal profession. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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