Anakbayan today called on youth and students, especially those studying law, to “follow the example of Atty Romeo Capulong and defend the people’s welfare.” Atty. Capulong passed away due to illness Sunday afternoon at the Manila Medical Doctors Hospital.
Capulong, 77, has been a staunch defender of human rights and won many cases in behalf of victims of human rights violations. The UN General Assembly described him as the leading counsel for all human rights cases in the country. Besides being an international jurist, he is also the founder of the Public Interest Law Center.
“He is truly a people’s lawyer and an example for the youth. When younger activists were arrested during protests, they would be relieved once they knew that Atty. RomyCap was on his way,” Anakbayan chair Vencer Crisostomo said.
For the youth group, Ka Romy may have succumbed to illness but he never gave in to the temptations and privileges associated with being a lawyer.
“The youth, especially law students, should follow Ka Romy’s footsteps. Atty. Capulong served the people until the end,” Crisostomo added.
Capulong represented many human rights victims, notably those involved in abuses during the Martial Law years.
He was counsel in the landmark class action suit that produced a $2 billion judgment for 10,000 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.
He also became the lawyer of the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and also represented Jose Maria Sison and other political leaders against the Marcos regime.
Despite threats to his life, Capulong continued to defend human rights after 1986. During the Estrada impeachment trial for economic plunder, he served as prosecutor. He was also the counsel of Flor Contemplacion, and of “comfort women.”
One of his latest cases is that of the Morong 43. He brought the said case to Supreme Court and the Commission on Human Rights, headed then by Leila de Lima, and argued it.
He condemned the AFP’s failure to bring the health workers to court, when the writ of habeas corpus was already granted, and how the 43 were arrested and detained without access to a counsel.
Activists in the democratic movement would consult Capulong whenever they faced sanctions, such as trumped-up charges. He drafted provisions to address landlessness during the Constitutional Convention before it was dissolved in 1972, and continued to defend peasant leaders.
He is also a legal counsel for the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and he crafted 10 bilateral agreements as a lawyer in the peace talks including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
He represented labor leader Crispin Beltran and led the legal battle in Batasan 6 incident in 2006, when progressive lawmakers were accused of conspiring with rebel soldiers at the time. The Supreme Court dropped the rebellion raps.
In 2007 he defended Satur Ocampo, who was facing rebellion and fabricated murder charges.
Crisostomo said the best way to honor Atty. Capulong was to continue the fight for genuine freedom and democracy.
“Atty. Capulong always told his clients to continue the fight and intensify the mass movement for change. The best way to remember Atty. Capulong is to carry on the fight for human rights and social change,” Crisostomo said.