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IBP, NBI ink cooperation agreement to protect lawyers vs threats

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IBP, NBI ink cooperation agreement to protect lawyers vs threats
Lawyers submit a letter to the Supreme Court on December 22, 2020 urging action on the killings of lawyers.
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines inked a deal last week to extend assistance to, and protect, members of the Judiciary who experience threats and harassment.

The NBI, in a statement, said its OIC-Director Eric Distor and IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa signed a Memorandum of Agreement to strengthen coordination and communication between the agency and the IBP’s chapter organizations.

The IBP is the national organization for Philippine lawyers.

The bureau said both parties agreed to maintain direct lines between their leaderships for faster coordination and to help prevent attacks on lawyers. The agreement also covers data sharing between the NBI and IBP.

This comes nearly three months since the IBP and the Philippine National Police signed a separate MOA to address attacks on members of the legal profession. Under the agreement, the PNP will help lawyers enhance their skills and knowledge in protecting themselves through proper use of firearms.

In its accord with the NBI, the bureau “will provide timely assistance to lawyers, prosecutors and magistrates in distress and extend appropriate security and protection in cases of threats or hazards in the performance of their duties and functions as may be allowed by law and regulations.”

The NBI will also expedite and prioritize probes into incidents or cases of violence against members of the legal profession.

IBP, for its part, will provide legal assistance to NBI personnel who also experience harassment in line of their duty. The lawyers’ organization will also create “an appropriate incentive and reward fund” for informants and witnesses for successful investigations, arrest and prosecution of suspects in cases involving attacks against lawyers, prosecutors and justices.

The IBP will also advocate measures to “upgrade law enforcement capabilities, ensure the prompt resolution and disposition of criminal cases, and motivate the NBI officers and lawyers to work together in upholding the rule of law in the service of our country and its people.”

The Supreme Court, in a rare statement issued in March, strongly condemned attacks on members of the legal profession and has asked concerned groups to submit reports of harassment and violence to them for evaluation and recommendation.

An independent tally from the Free Legal Assistance Group found that 61 lawyers were slain in the past five years under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. This number is higher than the killings in the past six administrations combined.

The House of Representatives meanwhile approved on third and final reading the “Philippine Judiciary Marshals Service Act” early in June. It aims to protect the members of the Judiciary from threats and allow them to exercise their functions free from external factors. — Kristine Joy Patag

ATTACK ON LAWYERS INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE SUPREME COURT
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