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Justice in the face of fear

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TO THREATEN our judges and our lawyers is no less than an assault on the judiciary. To assault the judiciary is to shake the very bedrock on which the rule of law stands. This cannot be allowed in a civilized society like ours. This cannot go undenounced on the Court’s watch. 

The Supreme Court has always operated within institutional restraints. But it is far from resigned to spectate as clear breaches of constitutional rights are carried out beyond its halls. We remain conscious of our role to ensure that the rule of law is resilient and effective in a just, fair and timely manner.  

Every threat to a lawyer or a judge that prevents them from exercising their functions has very serious repercussions on the idea that the rule of law must be accessible in an impartial and transparent manner to all parties. Every right guaranteed in the Constitution must be protected.

The court condemns in the strongest sense, every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed andwhere a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled. We do not and will not tolerate such acts that only perverse justice, defeat the rule of law, undermine the most basic of constitutional principles and speculate on the worth of human lives.

The Bench and the Bar, as well as the public, can rest assured that we will continue to unflinchingly comply with our constitutional duty to act decisively when it is clear that injustices are done.

True to the just virtues we all must fight for, our resolve is unqualified. We recognize the bravery of all the judges and lawyers who show up to administer justice in the face of fear. Let there be no doubt, the Supreme Court stands with them.

(Excerpted from the statement of the Supreme Court in response to various letters from petitioners and lawyers against the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines College of Law and the Free Legal Assistance Groupcalling attention to 61 lawyers killed under the Duterte administration and a recent red-tagging of a judge in a tarpaulin hung along EDSA.)

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