CHR, NBI probe shooting of lawyer in Mandaue City

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
CHR, NBI probe shooting of lawyer in Mandaue City
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 Commission on Human Rights has dispatched its regional team to look into the shooting of a lawyer in Cebu and her 19-year-old-son, as the watchdog condemned the latest attack on the members of the legal profession.

“CHR vehemently decries this latest attempt against a lawyer and calls for swift action from all concerned authorities to ensure accountability of perpetrators,” CHR Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

Reports said lawyer Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales was driving her car with her son when gunmen shot at them along Hernan Cortes Street in Mandaue City at around 10:00 p.m. on September 1.

Quiñanola-Gonzales is a lawyer at the Cebu Port Authority and is a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

The National Bureau of Investigation Cebu District Office is also conducting a probe into the incident, following the request of the family, bureau spokesperson Giselle Dumlao told reporters.

In a separate statement last September 2, FLAG noted that this is the first recorded assault against a lawyer since the new administration started.

More than 50 lawyers, meanwhile. have been killed in the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte, prompting the Supreme Court to issue a rare and strongly-worded statement condemning the attacks on the Judiciary.

Government role

De Guia stressed that “lawyers and judges deserve utmost protection and an enabling environment that will allow them to freely dispense their duties without the perpetual fear that it may lead to harmful and/or violent reprisal.”

She went on to call on the government to ensure preventive mechanisms and protection, which includes passage of measures to address the continuing violence against legal professionals and human rights defenders.

FLAG Chairperson Chel Diokno also called on the Congress to enact legislation to protect human rights defenders and the SC to continue its prove into killings of lawyers that started in the previous administration.

But Court Administrator Raul Villanueva admitted that, based on their records, “it is really difficult for us to be able to run after those who may have perpetrated the crime.”

Asked during the budget hearing for the Judiciary at the House of Representatives last September 1, Villanueva however explained that the SC’s statement was also a reminder that other agencies can help address the situation.

“Like I said, it’s only when cases are filed that our role in our Judiciary come into play,” he added.

But Villanueva gave a commitment that the SC is very much open for consultation with other stakeholders. “In fact, you just point to us your honor to whom you would want us to coordinate and you can be assured that we will gladly meet with any of them,” he added.

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