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Legal profession as a precarious calling

Lawyers, prosecutors and judges have been recently murdered and assaulted making the legal profession a very precarious calling.

Nationwide the statistics of lawyer, judges and prosecutors assaulted have risen to up. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines has accounted 64 lawyers murdered under the present administration.

Charges has been filed since 2004 in which lawyers were victims, underscoring the lack of accountability for serious crimes in the Philippines.  One of two nongovernmental groups that track killings of lawyers the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), said more than half were work-related. The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), which also monitors attacks, said most of those killed represented either victims of the “war on drugs” or victims of human rights violations. The NUPL said, “almost all perpetrators have never been brought to the bar of justice.”

On 23 March, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a statement against these attacks and described them as an “assault on the judiciary”.  

The Supreme Court also pledged to take action, including issuing a call to lower courts and law enforcement officials for information on incidents of threats and killings over the past 10 years. On 24 March, the Senate adopted a resolution also condemning the brazen attacks against judges and lawyers.

 

Recently, a masked gunman stealthily approached and shot lawyer Rex Fernandez with a .45 caliber pistol as Fernandez’s vehicle slowed down at a busy junction along Salvador Street, Sitio Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, at around 4:10 pm. After the shooting, the killer fled on board a motorcycle driven by a co-conspirator.


Fernandez, 64, died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

The unabated killing of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers has prompted the Supreme Court to act. In a statement dated 27 August 2021, the highest court condoled with Fernandez’s family and friends. Expressing concern over Fernandez’s ambush-slay, the court remarked through Associate Justice Marvic Leoned “The killing of any lawyer is of serious concern to all of us.” He further said that, “Violence, solves nothing. It is anathema to the rule of law.”


The court, Leonen said, continues “to sift through and analyze the voluminous records and reports submitted to us upon our call to discern whether there are patterns in the killing of lawyers and threats to judges so that we can evaluate a strategic response”.

I am reminded that the IBP launched the Lawyers Security and Justice Fund.  Whatever happens to that program in the wake of the recent event needs to be refined to ensure effectiveness. Domingo Egon Q. Cayosa, the then IBP national president and Board of Governors chairman, announced that IBP was establishing a ₱25-million Lawyers Security and Justice Fund. The fund will be used, Cayosa said, “to reward and support crucial witnesses in the successful prosecution of the murderers of lawyers.”

In order “to more effectively protect lawyers,” Cayosa added that the IBP signed on 2 March 2020 the Philippine National Police-IBP Memorandum of Understanding on Lawyers Security.  Hope this program sees light.  Write us at carillogerry@yahoo.com.ph