De Lima echoes call to protect lawyers from attacks
MANILA, Philippines — Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Monday urged the Duterte administration to heed the call of lawyers from around the world to help address the attacks against members of the legal profession in the Philippines.
De Lima, who backed the call of several international lawyers’ organizations and members of the legal profession, said “attacks against lawyers who wanted nothing but to protect their clients and faithfully fulfill their mandate continue to be a trend under this administration.”
“And in fact, even worsen, yet Mr. Duterte and his allies remain unperturbed,” De Lima, a staunch critic of the President, said in a statement.
“The attacks against the very people mandated to ensure that justice is done requires due and prompt attention by this administration. The government should not allow the attacks against lawyers to continue to be a common practice,” she added.
In a joint statement dated September 17, several international groups and individuals in the legal profession sought an investigation on extrajudicial killing of lawyers and jurists.
They also asked that those responsible behind the crimes be held accountable.
Lawyers from Africa, Asia, Australia, Netherlands, Russia, other parts of Europe, North America and South America, were among the signatories of the statement, De Lima said.
“The government is duty-bound to protect its people, especially those whose lives are in great danger because their profession requires them to defend others, especially the vulnerable,” the senator said.
“Now is not the time to play deaf ears to the plight of our country’s lawyers,” she added.
According to the lawyers, at least 41 lawyers and prosecutors were killed between July 2016 and September 2019, including 24 practicing lawyers.
At least five active and retired judges were also murdered since July 2016, they added.
The signatories, De Lima said, is urging the Philippine government to consistently condemn all forms of threats and attacks against lawyers publicly and fully comply with and create awareness about the core values underlying the legal profession.
“I have repeatedly urged the government to promptly investigate the rising unsolved cases of killings and attempted killings against members of the legal profession but I have yet to see actions in relation to it,” she said.
De Lima has earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 33 urging the appropriate Senate panel to look into the continued assault against members of the legal profession, including lawyers, prosecutors and judges.
She has also introduced Senate Bill No. 780 which seeks to increase the penalty against crimes committed against lawyers by considering these offenses as aggravating circumstance. /gsg
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