International human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong passes away at 77
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATED 1:10 PM, Sept. 17) World-renowned Filipino human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong known for his consistent, valiant defense of the marginalized sectors during and after martial law, passed away Sunday after a lingering illness. He was 77. His death was described as the "people's loss" by a lawyers' group he had founded.
He had been confined at the Manila Medical Doctors Hospital weeks prior to his death.
He was lawyer of martial law victims and a member of the United Nations' International Criminal Court.
Capulong had defended the rights of the peasants, workers, urban poor, students, women, political prisoners, and other oppressed and marginalized sectors of Philippine society during and after martial law.
He was also Senior Legal Adviser to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines after the EDSA People's Revolt in 1986.
Capulong led young like-minded lawyers at the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), which renders legal services mainly to organized sectors of Philippine society.
One of them, lawyer Rolando Rico Olalia, son of slain labor leader Rolando Olalia, calls Capulong his "mentor, father, friend, and colleague."
NUPL calls him ‘people’s loss’
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), of which Capulong was founding chairman and chairman emeritus, issued a statement on his passing. It described itself as “made up of generations of passionate lawyers and law students for the people.”
The NUPL said it “deeply mourns the passing of its much loved and admired founding chairman and chairman emeritus, Romeo T. Capulong at the age of 77.”
The rest of the NUPL statement follows:
“Fondly known to us as RTC, he finally rested his case this evening, as if waiting until the conclusion of NUPL’s National Council meeting this afternoon on the ocassion of our fifth founding anniversary. He had battled a lingering illness and is survived by his wife Pia and three children.
His passion, selflessness, dedication, wisdom and vision inspired people’s attorneys and law students immensely, both here and abroad. As the first among us, he built an excellent example in both law and life for lawyers to follow.
RTC, son of a shared tenant famer, began to establish himself as an eminent legal scholar right out of the UP College of Law. He used his skills to defend the rights of the marginalized – the peasants, workers, urban poor, students, women, political prisoners, human rights defenders, peace advocates and other oppressed sectors of society – long before the idea of alternative lawyering secured a foothold in the Philippine legal system.
He represented the common man, the underdog and those who chose to fight back against an oppressive and exploitative system.
RTC’s devotion to his chosen clients was rooted in personal and professional solidarity. He handled public interest cases with the aim of effecting substantial changes, not simply quick relief. He took on suits litigation in behalf of basic sectors, driven by the desire to empower the people.
Our loss hence, is the people’s loss.
As a guiding pillar of NUPL, he ably and indefatigably guided – and still guides – us in our commitment to serve the poor, the exploited and the oppressed in our legal and metalegal struggles in different battlefields, goading us to push the parameters and serve the people.
His ringing words will forever be etched in our hearts and minds: "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."
We fully concur beyond any shadow of doubt.
People’s lawyers like THE Romy Capulong never die. They just live in the work of the next generations of people’s lawyers.
Mabuhay si RTC! Ang manananggol ng bayan! Tuloy tayo na lumaban!”