Lawyer killed in broad daylight on Cebu City street

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Lawyer killed in broad daylight on Cebu City street
Lawyer Rex Fernandez was killed by unidentified perpetrators in an ambush in Banawa, Cebu City on August 26, 2021.
The Freeman / Romeo Marantal

MANILA, Philippines — Another lawyer, the 64th slain in the profession since the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, was killed in Cebu City on Thursday afternoon.

The FREEMAN reported that lawyer Rex Fernandez was shot dead in a car in Banawa, Cebu City. CCTV footage showed the killer in red shooting Fernandez’s car several times before fleeing on foot.

Alternative media group ANINAW Productions said Fernandez was also one of the counsels of the "Cebu 8", a group of protesters and a bystander who were arrested in a rally at the University of the Philippines in Cebu on June 5, 2020. The activists arrested were protesting agianst the anti-terrorism bill, which they said could be used to crack down on dissent.

ANINAW also reported that the slain lawyer recently went on hunger strike in protest of the condominium building where he lives allegedly cutting off his water supply. It added that one Fernandez handled a case for vendors protesting planned development of the city's Carbon market.

Continued attacks on lawyers

Fernandez is the 64th lawyer killed since the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte—a member of the legal profession himself.

His brutal murder comes a month after lawyer Hilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie were reportedly killed with a rifle in front of their residence in Davao City on July 14.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers mourned the killing of Fernandez, who they recalled as one of their founding members.

"No words, indeed. Another colleague has fallen with his boots on. We had lost count. It has not stopped and every lawyer is a sitting duck," they said in a statement.

The NUPL also said Fernandez worked as counsel for rights alliance Karapatan and handled "many [writ of] amparo cases of activists."

The lawyers’ group said that while the victim later went inactive as a member of the union, he continued to collaborate with other human rights lawyers in public interest cases.

Under mounting pressure from progressive and lawyers groups, the Supreme Court, in a rare move, condemned the attacks on the legal profession and asked concerned groups to submit reports of harassment and violence to them for evaluation and recommendation

An independent tally from the Free Legal Assistance Group found that 61 lawyers were slain in the past five years under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. This number is higher than the killings in the past six administrations combined.

Facing members of the press in June, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo assured that the SC is working on reports submitted by concerned groups on attacks on the legal profession. — with reports from The FREEMAN

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