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Lawyers Group Forms Coalition to Seek Justice for Maguindanao Massacre Victims
Lawyers' Coalition Offers Legal Aid to Maguindanao Massacre Victims
A coalition of 22 Philippine-based lawyers group has recently been formed to seek justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre. The Tactical Alliance of Lawyers Against Impunity in Maguindanao (TALIM) will offer their legal services for free to ensure equal representation for the Maguindnao massacre victims.
TALIM Lawyers will serve as private prosecutors for victims who are still without legal representation to pursue the civil as well as criminal aspects of the case. TALIM is the largest coalition of lawyers groups seeking justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.
TALIM’s lawyers’ coalition is composed of the following groups : Center for International Law, Integrated Bar of the Philippines National Committee on Legal Aid, Bangsamoro Legal Network, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), SALIGAN, Lyceum College of Law Office of Legal Aid, MABINI, Sanlakas, Protestant Lawyer’s League of the Philippines, UP Women Lawyers Circle (UP WILOCI), IBP Socsargen, IBP Davao, IBP Saranggani, IBP North Cotabato, UNTV-Legal,ULAMA, MUSLAF (Muslim Legal Aid Foundation), Alliance for Muslim Advocates for Law (AMAL), San Beda Office of Legal Aid, UP Office of Legal Aid Gender Justice Network, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Union of People’s Lawyers for Mindanao (UPLM).
While concentrating heavily in coordinating legal strategies, TALIM also aims to centralize the fund raising activities to help the victims financially under the umbrella of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ( IBP) and liaison for the victims whose interests have not been attended to by proper authorities.
Spokesperson for the lawyers group, lawyer Harry Roque, Jr. Chairman of the Center for International Law said the interest of the government does not seem to jibe with the interest of the victims aside from the Mangudadatus. “While multiple murder cases have been filed in court against Andal Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect of the November 23 carnage, Roque said the complaints of other victims are still in the preliminary investigation stage.” Roque in an interview with Manila Bulletin said “ the filing of the rebellion case against the Ampatuans diminished the case of the other massacre victims. “ Roque also admitted that the claim for benefits of the heirs of the victims have been hampered by the refusal of the Maguindanao provincial government to issue death certificates for the victims. The Philippine Commission on Human Rights chairperson said the local civil registrar of Maguindanao has yet to issue the death certificates of the victims. The coalition also disclosed that out of the 57 victims three still remained unidentified.
International press reports including the Toronto Star singled out the Maguindanao Massacre, in the southern Philippines, as the highest number of journalists (30) and two female human rights lawyers killed in one day throughout the world.
(Source - Manila Bulletin)