By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 10 April) — The provincial police director of Surigao del Sur has denied he issued a memorandum ordering the police station in Lianga town to profile a public lawyer rendering legal assistance to alleged communist rebels.
In a phone interview, Col. Dennis A. Siruno of the Surigao del Sur Provincial Police Office vehemently denied the memo was coming from him saying this is fake because his signature was forged,
“Nastress na ako dahil concerned na pamilya ko. Sinabihan ko ang aking mga anak hindi gawa ng papa ninyo yan (I was stressed because my family was concerned. I told my children that their father would not do that),” Siruno adding that aside from his family in Ilocos, his high school classmates were messaging him about the veracity of the report.
Siruno assured that he will personally conduct an investigation starting Sunday to track down those who were involved in the fake memo as he vowed to file an administrative and criminal charges against them.
The memo dated March 29, ordered the police chief of Lianga to profile Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) lawyer Carol Anne A. General who was said to be assisting New Peoples Army rebels in their criminal cases.
The memo noted that during the meeting between the Regional Intelligence Division and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency in March, “it has been observed that some legal personalities handling the cases of CTGs were repeatedly providing them assistance with regards [sic] to their criminal cases.”
The military and police refer to the New People’s Army as CTG or “communist terrorist group.”
The memorandum was marked “confidential”.
A statement signed by 16 lawyers said that the purported memorandum is “a gross display of ignorance and blatant disrespect of the law” and “an undue interference and grave assault on the independence and role of lawyers in our justice system.”
For her part, PAO chief Persida Ruedas-Acosta in her social media post told Siruno to spare General from red-tagging/profiling who is just ding her job pursuant to Republic Act No. 9406 (PAO law) and section 3o of R.A. No. 11479 (anti-terrosrism act). “Pleaseread the lawa,” she said.
The statement noted that “similar lawyer profiling incidents have also occurred in the past that sent clear chilling effects on the members of the bar.”
“PNP members, as law enforcers, are duty-bound and expected to assist in the administration of justice, not to make a mockery of our laws and transgress them with impunity,” it added.
The statement called on Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos, Jr. and the Philippine National Police leadership “to thoroughly and swiftly investigate this incident and impose the appropriate sanctions on the responsible official concerned.”
It also asked the Supreme Court “to take a more aggressive stance in protecting the members of the Bench and Bar,” saying such actions erode public trust and confidence in the justice system.
The signatories to the statement include current and former officials of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Region as well as deans of law schools in the Davao Region.