PNP probes into killing of lawyer in South Cotabato

PNP probes into killing of lawyer in South Cotabato
This undated photo shows the late human rights lawyer Juan Macababbad, who was popular for his free legal services to unschooled members of the T’boli and Blaan indigenous people in South Cotabato.
via John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the Philippine National Police on Thursday ordered an investigation into the killing of public interest lawyer Juan Macababbad, the 65th in the legal profession slain under the Duterte administration.

South Cotabato police said Macababbad was shot dead multiple times by three unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Surallah, South Cotabato on the afternoon of September 15. 

Police General Guillermo Eleazar condemned the killing and vowed to run after those responsible. 

"I have tasked the regional director of Police Regional Office 12 to look into the case to hold to account those behind this," he said in Filipino, "and give the justice Macababbad and his family deserve."

The 68-year-old suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and was declared dead in the hospital. 

PNP said the gunmen fled the crime scene by a motorcycle, and are now the subject of a follow-up operation by local law enforcers.

Eleazar has also ordered the PNP's Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to look into the progress of cases of other lawyers killed. 

He said it was "to check on the status of the cases of all the lawyers who were killed at least in the last five years in order to expedite the investigation on those which remain unsolved."

Groups have since pressed authorities to follow through on their promise of serving justice to those killed in the legal profession. 

The Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao, where Macababbad was vice chairman, said his murder clearly showed it was connected to his "vocation of lawyering for the people."

Macababbad had also received death threats before he was killed, the group added, 

“The culture of impunity pervades with the lack of serious investigation and prosecution over thousands of extrajudicial killings in the country," said UPLM. "The legal profession is not spared, and our colleagues have become main targets especially those who resist tyranny and defend human rights."

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