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Mode of Neutralization: PNP Calbayog asks local RTC to reveal legal counsel for commie groups

This recent move by a local police station has drawn the ire not just of netizens but of the country’s biggest group of lawyers—the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

It seems the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is producing even more chilling effects as it has “emboldened” police to secure a hit list—this time for lawyers representing “communist terrorist groups.”

The Calbayog City Police Station in Samar has gone viral after their chief of intelligence, Fernando Calabria, Jr., apparently sent a formal request to the Office of the Clerk of Court (OCC) in Brgy. Capoocan, Calbayog City.

The letter states that the RTC is asked to provide a “list of lawyers represent CTG personalities in the court”. The request letter defined CTG as communist terrorist groups.

The Supreme Court has since confirmed the request, though no actions have been taken as of writing.

The letter also came with a “table” for the OCC to fill out with a controversial header on one of its columns: mode of neutralization.

This column would draw questions from netizens, who are now alleging that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is acquiring a hit list of lawyers who represent activists supposedly involved with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The request was so controversial that it has reached the House of Representatives, where Bayan Muna representatives Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite have commented on the request.

Zarate said the request is “a clear and present danger to the legal profession”, siding with netizens that the PNP is indeed preparing a hit list of lawyers who represent progressive groups in court.

Gaite would ask about PNP’s authority to secure such a list in the first place.

This did not sit well even with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the country’s biggest collection of practicing lawyers.

In a statement, IBP president Domingo Cayosa said the letter is “improper, deplorable, and alarming.”

“The letter disregards the very basic principle that lawyers are free and even duty-bound to represent those accused regardless of political or ideological persuasions,” he added.

Cayosa also said he has been assured by top PNP officials that there is no directive to Calabria or any other police unit to secure names of lawyers representing suspected CTGs.

A photo of a supposed “subordinate” has also made rounds on social media, allegedly taking back the letter because PNP Calbayog “made a mistake”.

Top officials from the PNP have yet to issue a public statement as of writing, though netizens still worry that this might also be a trickle-down effect of President Rodrigo Duterte’s shoot-to-kill order versus armed communist rebels.

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