With more than 50 lawyers killed since 2016, legal institutions meet on security issues

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
With more than 50 lawyers killed since 2016, legal institutions meet on security issues
Lawyers submit a letter to the Supreme Court on December 22, 2020 urging action on the killings of lawyers.
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers via Bulatlat

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine institutions in the legal profession are coordinating with lawyers’ groups and government agencies to address continued attacks on the sector that have seen 50 killed since the start of the Duterte administration.

Court Administrator Midas Marquez said Thursday that they are drafting a report for Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on recent meetings on security issues in the legal profession.

Marquez said at least four meetings were held in January with different stakeholders.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Philippine Bar Association, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines met with the Office of the Court Administrator on January 8.

A subsequent meeting was held with the Office of the Justice Secretary, Office of the Prosecutor General, Prosecutors’ League, National Bureau of Investigation and the Public Attorney’s Office. Other government agencies were also conferred with, such as the Departments of the National Defense and of the Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police and Commission on Human Rights.

Law deans, judges and clerks of court were also part of the discussions, Marquez said.

“We are now drafting our report to be submitted to [Peralta] who instructed us to meet and find ways on how this can be addressed,” Marquez said.

After the meetings were held and while the report is being drafted, another lawyer was brazenly killed. Barely three weeks into 2021, lawyer Winston Intong was gunned down while he was buying vegetables near his house in Bukidnon.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra meanwhile said that the department will draw up an inventory of cases that are under investigation, are undergoing preliminary investigation and those that have reached the court for trial “for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely.”

Guevarra said that other issues raised such as providing greater protection to law practitioners, prosecutors and judges will be tackled in subsequent joint activities with the IBP.”

Increasing attacks, many still unresolved

More than 50 lawyers have been killed since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, prompting the IBP to demand action from the Supreme Court.

In November, lawyers Eric Jay Magcamit in Palawan and Joey Luis Wee in Cebu were killed in broad daylight. The murders happened in a span of a week.

In December, lawyer Maria Concepcion Landero-Ole, also from Cebu, was gunned down in Looc, Danao City. In the same month, the National Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the mutilated body found in Capas, Tarlac was former Court of Appeals Justice Normandie Pizarro.

Bukidnon lawyer Intong was killed January 14.

A Rappler report citing data from Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said five out of 54 cases of lawyer killings since 2016 reached the court since December 1.







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