CHR investigating slay attempt vs Abra lawyer

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
CHR investigating slay attempt vs Abra lawyer
Logo of Commission on Human Rights
Commission on Human Rights

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday said it is investigating the violent attack on a lawyer and one of his staff in Bangued, Abra.

The incident took place January 29 when lawyer Hamilcar Bigornia was stabbed by two unidentified assailants in his office after his aide was also repeatedly attacked with a knife.

Both Bigornia and his aide, Ruben Barcena Alvarez, survived the assault, according to the Bangued police. Alvarez gunned down one of the two suspects, while the police has arrested his companion who attempted to flee from the scene. 

“In line with our mandate as the country's independent human rights institution, our regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region is conducting a motu proprio investigation in aid of the pursuit of truth and accountability,” CHR said of the incident.

Continued attacks

The human rights body condemned the armed attack on Bigornia and called on law enforcement agencies to probe similar incidents that have cloaked members of the legal profession in fear.

“CHR remains vigilant against any threats to the life, security, as well as other rights of those in the legal profession that may be imperiled for defending the rights of others,” the human rights body added.

Bigornia narrowly escaped his death, but this and other attacks against lawyers, judges and other members of the court in the Philippines have "fostered an overwhelming climate of dread" for legal practitioners, according to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), where Bigornia sits as president at its Abra Chapter.

At least 133 lawyers, judges and prosecutors have been killed since 1984, according to the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers in November, when they submitted a complaint to the United Nations.

According to the CHR, the many forms of violence experienced by lawyers and other members of the legal profession have prompted the United Nations Human Rights Office and other member states to include recommendations related to these during the country's Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in November.

“Lawyers, judges, and all those in the legal profession are vital in administering justice, finding the truth, and protecting human rights. When lawyers are targeted, the rule of law is similarly under threat, which runs the risk of impunity persisting,” the human rights body added.

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