After Manila court shooting, IBP says to continue helping lawyers with stress, security

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
After Manila court shooting, IBP says to continue helping lawyers with stress, security
Manila court judge Teresa Abadilla served as a clerk at the Supreme Court before she became a trial court judges. She was 44 years old.
University of the Philippines Portia Sorority / released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:20 p.m.)  — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines said it will work on helping lawyers to deal with stress and improve their personal security in the wake of deaths of a Manila court judge and clerk of court.

IBP National President Domingo Egon Cayosa said being a lawyer is one of the most stressful professions. This is compounded by the killings of judges, prosecutors and lawyers, the COVID-19 pandemic, and “the creeping culture of violence and impunity in our society.”

“IBP will continue to help lawyers handle stress and improve their personal security,” he added.

Cayosa issued the statement after the death of Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla and clerk of court, lawyer Amador Rebato Jr. on Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators, citing a witness testimony, said Abadilla and Rebato were in discussion over the latter’s performance that was affected when he contracted the coronavirus. Rebato shot Abadilla while they were inside the courtroom, and he later shot himself.

Abadilla was rushed to the Manila Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.

Cayosa noted it is “ironic” that they learned of the shooting incident while the IBP, the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine Psychiatric Association were holding a webinar on how to manage stress and mental health in the legal profession amid the pandemic.

“We hope the government and all sectors will cooperate to ensure that differences may be resolved responsibly, quickly and peacefully,” he added.

Judge Tessa remembered

Abadilla’s sorority sisters from the UP College of Law's Portia Sorority mourned her passing and remembered her unparalleled “commitment to the rule for law and devotion to the delivery of justice.”

They also noted that Abadilla served first as a clerk at the Supreme Court before becoming a trial court judge.

“Even on the day of her death, she braved a typhoon in order to ensure the speedy administration of justice,” they said.

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said Abadilla’s death is a “big loss to the Judiciary.”

UP Portia Sorority meanwhile urged the public to report the circulating photos and videos of the incident so these may be taken down.

“As we mourn for Sis Tessa, and as her family deals with this tragic news, we humbly ask that we respect her memory and protect the family’s privacy,” they added.

DOH: It's okay to not be okay

The Department of Health has acknowledged that the pandemic can affect mental health and has emphasized that those who feel sad or worried during the coronavirus pandemic are not alone.

"Okey lang na hindi ka okey. Hindi ka nag-iisa. May mga taong naandiyan para suportahan ka," it says on its FAQ on mental health.

(It is okay to not be okay. You are not alone. There are people who will support you)

DOH also suggests going on "brain breaks" like getting in touch with family or friends through text messaging, phone calls, or online chat. It says it is important to stay connected with others despite the restrictions on movement due to the pandemic.

"You can talk to them about what you are experiencing," the DOH said.

It also suggests exercise and doing things that make you happy or that relax you.

The department urges people seeking professional support to get in touch with the National Center for Mental Health hotlines at 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 899-USAP (8727); or its Mind Matters hotline at 09189424864

The HOPELINE Project is a 24/7 service for depression and suicide prevention.

They can be reached at the following numbers: 

(02) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917 558 HOPE (4673)
2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers)



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