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Human rights lawyer stabbed in Iloilo

Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A human rights lawyer was wounded in an attack using a screwdriver in Iloilo City on Wednesday night.

Angelo Karlo Guillen, 32, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-Panay chapter, was walking toward the Ferri Mar Hotel in Barangay Villa Anita when two men followed him at around 9:15 p.m., according to the Western Visayas police.

Witnesses said Guillen tried to escape, but the suspects chased and beat him up and then stabbed him in the head and shoulder.

Probers are eyeing robbery as the motive for the attack, noting that the suspects took Guillens’ backpack, which contained a laptop, and sling bag.

The NUPL condemned the attack and asked authorities to promptly conduct an investigation.

Guillen is among those serving as counsels in the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Law. He also represents activists, including members of the indigenous group Panay Tumandok, who were arrested during a law enforcement operation in Iloilo last December.

DOJ probe

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they would talk with Guillen before deciding if the DOJ inter-agency committee on extrajudicial killings would conduct a parallel probe.

“If he has a good reason to believe that it’s related to his advocacies, I will refer the matter to the AO (Administrative Order) 35 Task Force for appropriate action,” Guevarra said.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said inflicting violence on those who seek justice is ”criminality in the highest degree.”

“We pray for his safety and well-being as he grapples to survive two stab wounds with 12-inch screwdrivers on his head and back by two masked criminals who were picked up with two motorcycles right after the treacherous attack,” Cayosa said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the police and National Bureau of Investigation were tasked to investigate the incident.

”We support the resolution of the IBP,” Roque said.

Not petty crime

Karapatan vice chairman Reylan Vergara said the incident could not be dismissed as a petty street crime.

”Guillen’s attackers obviously had the intent to kill him, targeting him in the head and body,” Vergara said.

Karapatan called on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct its own inquiry.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said continuing attacks on lawyers, especially those opposing the Anti-Terror Law, should stop.

”We call on the Supreme Court to act on these cases and protect both lawyers and petitioners who are under attack for their beliefs,” Reyes said. – Jennifer Rendon, Evelyn Macairan, Elizabeth Marcelo, Christina Mendez

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