CHR regional office conducting independent probe into killing of lawyer in South Cotabato

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
CHR regional office conducting independent probe 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 Commission on Human Rights will conduct an independent investigation into the killing of lawyer Juan Macababbad in South Cotabato, as it appealed to the government for swift action to protect members of the legal community and the vulnerable sectors they represent.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia in a statement on Friday said that the commission through its office in SOCCSKSARGEN region is looking into the killing of Macababbad who was gunned down in front of his house in South Cotabato on Wednesday afternoon.

“CHR strongly denounces this latest killing of another agent of law and an active defender of people’s rights and interest. The string of attacks against members of the legal profession remains unrelenting,” De Guia said.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, in its independent tally, said Macababbad is the 58th lawyer slain with prima facie evidence that the murder is due to his profession in the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, while a separate record puts his death as the 65th lawyer killings in the current administration.

Macababbad was a public interest lawyer who “helped investigate rights violations, represented political prisoners and served indigenous communities under frequent attack from the military and other state forces,” the NUPL Panay chapter said.

The NUPL chapter also lamented his killing as a “staggering blow to the cause of human rights.”

De Guia stressed that aside from the violation of the right to life, the pattern of killings also “contributes to the erosion of rule of law as it creates a chilling effect on those working for the pursuit of justice.”

She stressed that lawyers must be able to enact their duties without fear of reprisal or retribution. “We continue to ask government for swift action and proactive efforts that will ensure the protection of lawyers, including the vulnerable sectors that they represent,” De Guia continued.

PNP General Guillermo Eleazar has also ordered its regional office to conduct an investigation into the killing of the Macababbad. He issued a separate directive to the national police’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to look into the progress of cases of other lawyers killed.

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