NUPL honored with the 2024 Ebru Timtik Award
Thank you and we will not fail you as the poor, oppressed and exploited in our society and even in the world need us to be on their side.
June 14, 2024
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers is a nationwide voluntary association of human rights lawyers in the Philippines, committed to the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights, especially of the poor and the oppressed.

Ebru Timtik Award 2024 Acceptance Speech*
By NUPL Chairperson Atty. Edre U. Olalia

June 14, 2024

It is immensely humbling for the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers to have been chosen this award.

We sincerely thank Ebru Timtik Award Selection Committee for honoring us. This recognition is not only a singular endorsement of our competence, consistency and credibility as activist and passionate pro bono volunteer lawyers for the people but hopefully can also be a shield against the vicious attacks against our ranks.

It is a most welcome departure from various forms of attacks and the vicious red-tagging that we regularly get because we take on cases, clients and issues which many others cannot or will not take on.

We wish to congratulate as well our dear colleagues and co-members Remigdio “Ming” Saladero and Czarina “Dingkay” Musni for being our co-nominees, even as they can be regarded as the generational representation of the NUPL membership.

This Award belongs not to any one member or a group of members alone but rightfully to each and every member of NUPL for they are the NUPL who act, live, breathe, feel and think as the best lawyers that money cannot buy.

As our Founding Congress Keynote message from a former Chief Justice pointed out 17 years ago when we closed ranks and formed NUPL : “By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”

We dedicate this Award equally to the sons and daughters of our fallen comrades-in-law and those who have gone with their boots on and passed on the baton to us to finish the journey. No matter the manner of death, they are all heroes in our hearts. Ultimately, we share this Award to our clients, our brave clients who deserve brave lawyers, as well as future clients, as the case will be. It is after all, the social movement that makes people’s lawyering an imperative.

We are extremely moved by the words of the Caravana delegation when they said that its members “are honoured to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with the courageous lawyers, prosecutors, and judges of the Philippines. They reflect the very best of the legal profession and shine as beacons for us all.”

Indeed, as our Founding Chairperson Romeo T. Capulong, who inspired us to push the parameters of lawyering and dreamed of making people’s lawyering as a viable, nay legitimate, calling, admitted extrajudicially: “After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread this path.”

Hence, we defy and refuse to be extinct. We will multiply, we will propagate and we will flourish until our raison d’ etre for being people’s lawyers ceases.

We are keenly aware that even as Romy Capulong gave a clear view that “[T]he law, stripped of its usual rhetorical facade, is merely the collective expression of the interests and a sophisticated mechanism of the dominant elite to perpetuate the existing system in any given society, “it must serve the people. And that people’s lawyers can use the existing law for the benefit and interests of the people, on the one hand, and evolve and develop an alternative legal system for the people over time, on the other hand.

Finally, we shall eternally remember the inspiring words of Ebru Timtik who had to make the extraordinary sacrifice of giving up her life fighting for the basic principle of a fair trial:

“Only those who resist are hopeful. Our hope is great, our faith is complete.”

Once again, thank you and we will not fail you as the poor, oppressed and exploited in our society and even in the world need us to be on their side.

And we renew our promise that we have kept. We shall carry on the fight by slaying the dragons of injustice even though the heavens fall. #

(* Read together with Atty. Neri Colmenares, Atty. Ephraim E.B. Cortez, and Atty. Josa Deinla, Adviser, President and Secretary General of NUPL, respectively)

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