News media reports on UP Law Faculty’s call to dismiss baseless charges against its Professors

At least two news media channels have taken note of the UP Law Faculty Statement of Support posted online last Monday. The Statement denounces as harassment, charges brought against Professor Theodore Te, Professor Serafin Salvador Jr., and former Professor Florin Hilbay, along with members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Free Legal Assistance Group. The charges based are based on claims made by Peter Joemel Advincula, a witness of dubious credibility.

Citing the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted in 1990 the Statement declares that lawyers should “not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic, or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”.

The 90 signatories to the Statement urge the Department of justice to dismiss the baseless charges.

The media reports may be accessed at : https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2019/10/28/UP-College-of-Law-sedition-charge-professors-Bikoy.html  and  https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/10/28/19/up-law-faculty-urges-doj-to-junk-sedition-complaint-vs-hilbay-ibp-flag-lawyers

 

Following is the full Statement of Support.

STATEMENT OF SUPPORT

We, the undersigned members of the UP College of Law Faculty, express grave concern over the filing of criminal charges against the UP law professors Theodore O. Te and Serafin U. Salvador Jr., former UP professor Florin T. Hilbay, the lawyers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), based on the statement of Peter Joemel Advincula, a person whose credibility is in serious doubt.

We stand behind our colleagues Professors Te and Salvador, Atty. Florin T. Hilbay and our colleagues in IBP and FLAG. The charges are nothing but pure harassment, intimidation and undue interference in their professional function.

Under the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the 8th United Nations congress on the prevention of crimes and the treatment of offenders in 1990, paragraphs 16 and 23 provide –
16. Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.

This disturbing incident does not augur well for democracy. It is meant to silence legitimate criticism and dissent of lawyers and other members of the opposition.

The undersigned faculty call upon the Secretary of Justice to dismiss the baseless charges against Professors Te, Salvador and Atty. Hilbay and the IBP and FLAG lawyers and the members of the opposition, in the interest of truth, fairness and justice.