Honor and glory to beloved people’s lawyer, Atty. Jose “Joe” Begil, Jr.

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With the highest respect, the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, joins the family, people’s lawyers and friends of Atty. Jose “Joe” Begil, Jr. in conveying our deep admiration and gratitude for his courageous and eminently effective legal support and services to those in need against the unjust persecution of the people, their cadres and activists. We deeply mourn his death at the relatively young age of 49, after suffering a heart attack. We convey our heartfelt condolences to his beloved wife, Michelle Patino, their children, Jochelle Andrea, Home Chelo and Jodi Chelsea, his other family and relatives, fellow lawyers, and friends.

He was a student leader and President of the Supreme Student Government at San Nicolas College, now St. Paul University of Surigao City and Founding Member of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines in Surigao City.

He passed and ranked 18th in the Philippine Bar Exams in 2001. He helped in solving the legal problems of the farmers, workers, and fisherfolk as a member of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO). In 2005, he left PAO and became a full time human rights lawyer with the Surigao Norte Human Rights Alliance (SUNHRA) and later with Karapatan-CARAGA.

He was a founding member of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) in 2005 and its chairman from September 2016 to November 2019. In 2007, he became a Founding Member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and became its Vice-President for Mindanao in 2013-2016. Both the UPLM and NUPL are outstanding for courageously and effectively defending persecuted persons and organizations suffering grave injustices.

It was therefore no surprise that he volunteered to be a legal consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations of the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). He participated effectively in the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations, using his legal expertise in upholding the rights of the Filipino people in the intense discussions on political and constitutional reforms. His wife, Michelle, joined him in attending the peace negotiations.

I am personally deeply indebted to him because he gave me his effective support when a case was filed against me and Comrade Jorge Madlos, “Ka Oris”. Four military officers, who were legitimate captives of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the liberation struggle of the Filipino people, were released to further the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations. However, this benevolent act of the NPA for the sake of a just peace, was misused by the military who pressured the four released prisoners to file an unjust case against me, “Ka Oris” and several others. The case of serious illegal detention carried a penalty of life imprisonment. It was Atty. “Joe” Begil who took up our defense. He used his expertise and effective work to get the dismissal of the false case against us.

Atty. “Joe” Begil’s rich experience in standing up for people’s causes included his participation in the anti-pork barrel rally against the government in Surigao City on September 21, 2013. In 2017, he lawyered for Kadamay, prevented the demolition and dislocation of an urban poor community of almost 30 households in Barangay Taft, Surigao City. In 2021, he helped organize Bangon Surigaonon to help victims of Typhoon Odette in Surigao Norte.

He was included among, and lawyered for, the 468 charged with trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention related to the taking of Prisoners of War of the 122 paramilitary and two army regulars by the NPA on December 19, 2018. Since 2017 he has been consistently red-tagged and threatened for his human rights advocacy.

When the well-loved veteran of the people’s revolutionary struggle, Comrade “Ka Oris,” Jorge Madlos, was murdered by the government military in Mindanao, Atty. “Joe” Begil courageously helped retrieve his body.

Comrade “Joe” Begil, after so many years of dedicated service to the people, suffered a cardiac arrest on March 22, 2022 and died on May 11, 2022.

We again express our deepest gratitude for his many significant contributions and courageous and expert help to the Filipino people.

Honor and glory to our beloved Comrade, Atty. Jose “Joe” Begil, Jr.

Luis G. Jalandoni

Senior Adviser to the NDFP Negotiating Panel

Chief International Representative

National Democratic Front of the Philippines

17 May 2022

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