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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

PHILIPPINES

 23 November 2009

Cynthia Oquendo

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and 

Concepcion Connie Brizuela 

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 Lawyers

of the National Union of People's Lawyers

killed in a massacre  Maguindanao.

57 people massacred including 

30 journalists

Since 2001, 22 lawyers   have been killed in the Philippines

 

Source : Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao

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Two lawyers Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela, 56, and Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon , 35, were among people abducted involving more than 50 persons  killed  in the said Maguindanao massacre.

An ambush resulting in women being raped, killed and mutilated by a group of deputized militia. 57 people were massacred including the two human rights lawyers,  local executives who were to file their certificates of candidacy and 30 journalists who were invited to cover the event.

Among those taken were the wife of a mayor in Maguindanao province, Esmael Mangundadatu, his  supporters and his lawyers  Cynthia Oquendo  and   Connie Brizuela . As lawyers  they were accompanying their client to the COMELEC to file the client’s Certificate of Candidacy.

"Connie" Brizuela was a member of the Executive Committee and treasurer  of Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), and Cynthia Oquendo, an UPLM member . Known as independent-minded and courageous lady advocates of alternative lawyering and human rights, Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo were active pro bono officers of the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao a local voluntary bar association in that province known for its public interest advocacy. They were the election lawyers of the Mangudadatu political clan, which is the strongest political opponent of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province.

Connie Brizuela  has long been the subject of harrassment because of her human rights work in Mindanao. Brizuela had feisty personality within her petite frame and was no stranger to challenges. She was a former broadcaster who did not flinch in criticizing wrongdoers, and had been one of the leaders of a group fighting for good governance in Cotabato. A few years ago, she was jailed for a few days because of a libel case filed by Emmanuel Piñol, who was then governor. On or about June 23, 2006, she received SMS messages saying she will be the next to be killed after a couple was recently murdered in cold blood in the same area.

Cynthia Oquendo, who used to be based in the Province of Bukidnon, was also a member of the UPLM and was not a person who embraced violence.

Background information :

 

 Maguindanao is a Muslim-dominated province in the beautiful but violent Philippine island of Mindanao. Also killed were more than 12 media practitioners and many other ranking political personalities in the province belonging to the opposite camp of the incumbent Muslim provincial governor who heads the Ampatuan political clan.  The Mangundadatu clan is known to have a long-running feud with the family of Maguindanao’s incumbent Gov. Andal Ampatuan, who police say is known to control his own private army. Revenge killings and clashes among rival political families are common in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao island, where unlicensed firearms proliferate and parts of which are lawless. Islamic militants on Mindanao have also been waging a separatist rebellion for decades.

 

Since 2001, 22 lawyers   have been killed in the Philippines

 

 

COPY THE ENCLOSED LETTER AND SEND IT TO THE ADDRESS PROVIDED.

 

LETTER : 

 

 

[Your name and address here]

 

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES

 

Dear Ms. Arroyo

 

As an european lawyer, I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal murder of scores of civilians in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanaoin, a bloody start for the 2010 elections and among them our colleagues Concepcion "Connie" Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo.

 They were doing their duty, accompanying the wife of Buluan Vice Mayor Ishmael "Toto" Mangudadatu , Genalyn, whose group was on their way to file her husband's certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor at the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao.

This barbaric mass murder must not show that the culture of impunity clearly pervades with the existence of warlord-maintained private armies that have long been tolerated by the government, past and present.

It is doubly condemnable that among the latest victims were
journalists and lawyers, who have been in the line of fire because of their commitment to their respective profession.

 

In this year, one other lawyer was assassinated in Philippines : Crispin Perez. On 16 June 2009, three human rights lawyers Carlos Zarate, Angela Librado-Trinidad and Lilibeth Ladaga, sought judicial protection for their right to life, liberty and security because included in a list of targets in a leaked document.

 

Sadly, the names of Concepcion "Connie" Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo will be added to the long list of victims of extra-judicial killings under the present adminisatration.

I demand that justice be served on the victims, particularly to our colleagues, Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo.

 

I demand that the administration throws the full force of the government to bring the perpetrators, regardless of their affiliations, to the bar of
justice.

 

Yours sincerely.

 

[Signature]

 

 

 

ADDRESSES :

  1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
    President
    Republic of the Philippines
    Malacanang Palace
    JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
    Manila 1005
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2 736 1010
    Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
    E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph
  2. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
    Secretary
    Department of Justice (DoJ)
    DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
    1004 Manila
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2 521 1614
    E-mail: raulgonzalez_doj@yahoo.com

 

  1. Mr. Ronaldo V. Puno
    Secretary
    Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
    A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
    EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
    Quezon City
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2 925 0332
    Tel: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
    E-mail: rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph

 

TAKE ACTION NOW !

 

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