Four days after a nearly fatal attempt on his life by yet unknown assailants, human rights lawyer Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen vowed to continue to defend victims of human rights violations.
From his hospital bed on 7 March, Atty. Guillen, Assistant Vice President for Visayas of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said, “Physically, the attack has weakened me. But my resolve to continue with the NUPL work has never been stronger… We can never let fear prevent us from fighting the battles for the cause of human rights.”
Addressing his colleagues and clients, he said, “I can’t wait to get back out there and stand beside you again.”
Two unidentified assailants wearing masks and caps stabbed Atty. Guillen on his left temple and back on the night of 3 March 2021 on his way home in Iloilo City. The perpetrators took his laptop computer containing, among others, the files of the cases he was handling. These included the petition to the Supreme Court against the Anti-Terror Law, the massacre of indigenous Tumandok leaders in Panay Island in December 2020, the Sagay 9 Massacre in Negros Occidental, and other cases of human rights violations.
Atty. Guillen, in representing activists and human rights defenders, has been himself red-tagged, accused of being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army, subjected to illegal surveillance and harassment. He was arrested on 1 May 2020 when he tried to prevent the arrest of 42 protesters after the murder of Jory Porquia, Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator.
In condemning the assassination attempt on Atty. Guillen, the NUPL said that 54 lawyers and judges have already been killed in the performance of their work since Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016. They pointed out that Atty. Guillen is the fourth NUPL member who survived attempts on their lives since 2016.
Labor center KMU, Migrante International and numerous groups in the Philippines and abroad condemned this blatant violation of human rights.