“As people’s lawyers, it is only fitting for NUPL to take the side of the people in their demand for their right to health, education, housing and other socio-economic rights.” – Julian Oliva, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – National Capital Region
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Inspired by former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – National Capital Region chapter vowed to pursue cases and campaign for socioeconomic rights of the people.
In his keynote speech during the NUPL-NCR general assembly last Saturday, Puno called on lawyers and the public in general to demand for their socioeconomic rights from the state.
“We welcome CJ Puno’s exhortation for the people to demand for their socio-economic rights. As people’s lawyers, it is only fitting for NUPL to take the side of the people in their demand for their right to health, education, housing and other socio-economic rights,” newly-elected NUPL-NCR president Julian Oliva said in a statement.
Puno said socioeconomic rights as labor-related rights, right to health, right to housing, right to education, right to food and cultural rights. He called on Filipino lawyers to fight the traditional mindset against the enforcement of these rights.
In response, NUPL-NCR secretary general Carlos Montemayor identified as “priority cases” the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center and other government hospitals, perennial tuition increases in universities and colleges and violent and inhumane demolition of urban poor homes.
In a phone interview with Bulatlat.com, Montemayor said they are set to file a petition before the Supreme Court against the privatization of POC. “This is premised on the right to health. Privatization will violate the indigent patients’ access to medical services, a right enshrined in the Constitution,” Montemayor, also a registered nurse, said.
The group will help Kabataan Partylist in filing a motion for reconsideration on the youth party’s petition against tuition increases. Last month, the high court dismissed the petition of Kabataan Partylist against tuition hikes, citing, among others, the petitioner’s “failure to exhaust all available administrative remedies before elevating the case to the high court.”
Puno said the SC decision is a manifestation of the traditional view that socioeconomic rights, unlike civil and political rights, are not enforceable. The retired magistrate cited a new trend in jurisprudence upholding socioeconomic rights as demandable from the state.
With regard to the demolition of urban poor homes, Montemayor said they have yet to discuss legal measures to fight for the poor’s right to shelter.
“These cases are premised on the violation of the right to health, education and shelter. These socioeconomic rights, as CJ Puno explained, should be legally demandable,” Montemayor said.
The NUPL is the largest association of peoples’ lawyers in the country.
Oliva said “human rights should be enjoyed in all its dimensions.”
He noted that in countries where the highest courts have recognized the demandability of socioeconomic rights, it took a brave and persistent struggle by the people before these rights were finally recognized.
“Here in our country, we certainly have brave clients who persist in the struggle for human rights. We are simply providing an additional arena for the advocacy of these rights,” Oliva said.
The NUPL-NCR also elected Edwin dela Cruz, vice president; Glenn Romano, deputy secretary general; Alnie Foja, treasurer, and Minerva Lopez, auditor. The law students also chose Phoebellynn Carreon as the law students’ representative for NCR.