EDITORIAL - Undermining justice
(The Philippine Star) - September 3, 2015 - 10:00am

In this country, murder is an effective tool not just to permanently silence critical journalists and eliminate political rivals, but also to undermine justice. Prosecutors, judges and private lawyers are murdered with impunity, or else see their homes strafed, their cars shot up and their relatives intimidated by all types of thugs, from political warlords to government forces, drug dealers and influential gambling barons.

Last Tuesday afternoon, Judge Jude Erwin Alaba of the Baler Regional Trial Court in Aurora province was shot dead in his sport utility vehicle as he drove into the town’s RTC compound. A man on a motorcycle pulled up to the SUV and emptied a .45-caliber pistol on Alaba, killing the judge and wounding his wife. Probers are looking at drug cases and land disputes that Alaba was handling for possible motives. Last year, Alaba had also cleared a New People’s Army commander accused of killing two soldiers 15 years ago.

As in the attacks on journalists and left-wing activists, the only way to prevent impunity is by catching Alaba’s killer and whoever might have ordered it. The nation’s criminal justice system is weak enough without legal professionals being intimidated or murdered in connection with their work.

Among lawyers alone, a non-government organization counts 38 murdered in the Philippines since 2004, with only a handful of perpetrators convicted. The group says lawyers in the country are “structurally threatened, intimidated” and even labeled as “enemies of the state.” Among prosecutors and judges, several have begged off from handling cases due to harassment and threats to their lives and those of their loved ones.

Justice is one of the pillars of a working democracy, and murder is the worst way of undermining it. Every effort must be made to catch those behind the murder of Judge Alaba.

ACIRC ALABA INTIMIDATED JUDGE JUDGE ALABA JUDGE JUDE ERWIN ALABA OF THE BALER REGIONAL TRIAL COURT JUSTICE LAST TUESDAY LAWYERS MURDER NEW PEOPLE
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