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UA 318/91 - Philippines: harassment / death threat: Wilfred D. Asis

, Index number: ASA 35/030/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 35/30/91
Distr: UA/SC
UA 318/91 Harassment/Death threat 27 September 1991
PHILIPPINES: Wilfred D. Asis, human rights lawyer
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Attorney Wilfred D.Asis,
a human rights lawyer and member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
Attorney Asis has received a death threat which is believed to have been issued
by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The threat may have been
related to Attorney Asis' activities as defence counsel for six people accused
of membership of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the banned
Communist Party of the Philippines. The six had been acquitted of subversion
on 22 August 1991.
Shortly after the charges were dismissed, on 29 August 1991, Attorney
Asis received a letter from a man named Guyong, who claimed to represent the
National Democratic Front (NDF), the underground united front organization
controlled by the CPP. The letter began by praising Attorney Asis for his human
rights activities but went on to say he was being "investigated" for the killing
of two persons named Leo and Mike. The letter concluded by offering "condolences"
for Attorney Asis' forthcoming death.
Attorney Asis has stated that he knows of no persons by the names of
Guyong, Leo or Mike. He writes: "it is beyond me to 'author' somebody's death
and I have never considered doing so. I believe that life is God's gift and
only He has the right to take it back".
On 9 September 1991 Attorney Asis informed members of the Philippine
National Police of the threat to his life. A police superintendent is reported
to have told him that elements of the Philippine Armed Forces may be
contemplating "getting rid of him". The superintendent also reportedly advised
Attorney Asis to seek the assistance of the Secretary of Justice as he did
not wish to attend to this "problem".
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
At least six human rights lawyers have been killed in the past three years
in apparent extrajudicial executions in the Philippines; of these, three were
Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyers who had been active in defence of
human rights and in reporting abuses by members of the security forces. In
July 1991 human rights lawyer Vidal Tombo was shot and wounded by unidentified
armed men, probably because of his defence of suspected NPA members (see UA
250/91, 22 July 1991).
In addition to those killed, dozens more have received death threats
or other kinds of intimidation in recent years. In May 1990, FLAG lawyer Soledad
Jubilan received a series of death threats believed to have emanated from members
of the Philippines Constabulary (PC) in North Cotabato province (see UA 234/90,
ASA 35/16/90, 6 June 1990). In January 1991 FLAG layer Nerio G. Zamora received
a death threat from the provincial PC commander in Bohol (see UA 09/91, ASA
35/01/91, 14 January 1991 and update 5 June 1991). In March 1991, human rights
lawyer Romeo Capulong was followed by unidentified men believed to be connected
to military intelligence forces (see UA 121/91, ASA 35/13/91, 3 April 1991).
page 2 of UA 318/91
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern for the safety of Attorney Wilfred D. Asis following
receipt of a threat to his life;
- urging the government to provide appropriate and adequate protection to
protect the life and safety of Attorney Asis and to ensure that he is not
subjected to further threats to his life;
- asking the government to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation
into this incident, for the results to be made public and the suspected
perpetrators to be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO
General Renato S. de Villa Dear General
Secretary of National Defense
Department of National Defense
Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines
Telegrams: Defense Secretary de Villa, Quezon, Philippines
Telexes: 22471 DND PH or 42004 DCSLOG PM
Faxes: + 63 2 721 3988
General Lisandro Abadia Dear General
Chief of Staff of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines
Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
1110 Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines
Telegrams: Chief Staff Armed Forces, Manila, Philippines
Telexes: 22471 DND PH or 42004 DCSLOG PM
Faxes: + 63 2 832 3793 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs
General Cesar P Nazareno Dear General
Director General
Philippine National Police
Headquarters of the Philippines Constabulary
Camp Crame, Novaliches
Metro Manila, Philippines
Telegrams: Police Director General Nazareno, Metro Manila, Philippines
COPIES TO:
Silvestre H. Bello III
Secretary of Justice
Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila
Philippines
Mary Concepcion Bautista
Chairman
Commission on Human Rights
IBP Building Complex
Dona Julia Vargas Avenue
Pasig Metro Manila, Philippines
and to diplomatic representatives of the Philippines in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat
or your section office if sending appeals after 7 November 1991.

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