PH facing int’l scrutiny over rising attacks on lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — On Feb. 19, Atty. Fredric Anthony Santos, the lawyer that got tangled in the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) controversy and revealed massive corruption inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), was killed in broad daylight in front of his daughter’s school.
“The BuCor strongly condemns this kind of senseless violence and utter disregard for human life. As a continuing precaution, all BuCor personnel is directed anew to be more vigilant and heighten their security awareness at all times,” BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag said in a statement. Bilibid or NBP is one of the seven penal institutions operated by BuCor.
“Let us not allow this incident to diminish our individual and collective resolve to perform our mandate with commitment and integrity. An unblemished and excellent service reputation is a heritage we can offer to ourselves, our family and to our country,” Bantag added.
Several lawyers groups, as well as human rights organizations, have expressed concern over the spate of attacks against members of the legal profession in the country. Based on a report published on December 2014 by The Foundation of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, the Association of European Democratic Lawyers (AED-EDL), the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy (ELDH) and the Philippine Association National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), 41 lawyers have been killed in the Philippines since 2001.
The number is low compared to the 47 lawyers killed since 2016 only. Santos is the 47th lawyer killed. The list includes seven prosecutors, one retired prosecutor, five judges, and one former judge. Santos also is the fourth Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) personnel killed since 2018.
Next month, the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the country’s compliance with its international human rights obligation particularly the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
International organization Lawyers for Lawyers has given the UN Human Rights Committee a submission about the situation in the Philippines. The data they had gathered was collected through interviews and engagement with and reports from Filipino lawyers and other local and international stakeholders.
The submission focuses on four main issues: interference with the independence of the legal profession, the practice of labeling of lawyers and lawyers’ organizations, surveillance of lawyers and lawyers’ groups and culture of impunity.
“The situation of lawyers in the Philippines is highly alarming and threatening. Lawyers for Lawyers is deeply concerned over the increasing attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and the oppressive working environment,” the organization said in a statement posted on its website.
In its submissions, it urged the country to provide information on the following:
- How did the 2012 Administrative Order 35 that created the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-legal killings led to the prevention of attacks against lawyers?
- What other measures were taken to ensure that members of the legal profession can carry out their professional functions safely?
- How did the government respond to persistent reports of harassment, red-tagging in politically sensitive cases?
- Progress on the investigation into the deaths, attacks against lawyers including perpetrators, outcome, the status of cases.
Here are the list of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors killed since 2016:
Atty. Rogelio Bato – Tacloban City (August 23, 2016)
Atty. Allen Evasan – Iligan City (August 23, 2016)
Atty. Melver Tolentino – Ilocos Sur (September 15, 2016)
Atty. Honorato Mazo – North Cotabato (October 8, 2016)
Prosecutor Rolando Acido – Mati City (October 26, 2016)
Atty. Jemar Apada – Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya (December 1, 2016)
Atty. Arlan Castañeda – San Pablo, Isabela (December 20, 2016)
Atty. Goering Paderanga, Sr. – Cebu City (December 22, 2016)
Atty. Gerik Paderanga – Cebu City (December 22, 2016)
Prosecutor Johanne Noel Mingoa – Quezon City (January 11, 2017)
Atty. Victor Canoy (retired Judge)- Surigao City (February 2, 2017)
Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green – Bohol (February 14, 2017)
Prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon – Caloocan City (May 22, 2017)
Atty. Elmer Mitra, Jr. – Manila (June 1, 2017)
Atty. Dolores Yumol – Las Pinas City (June 6, 2017)
Prosecutor Maria Ronatay – Cainta Rizal (July 18, 2017)
Judge Godofredo Abul Jr. – RTC Butuan City (August 5, 2017)
Atty. Hermie Aban – Puerto Princesa City (August 15, 2017)
Atty. Pablito Gahol (retired prosecutor/incumbent Barangay chairman) – Mandaluyong (September 3, 2017)
Prosecutor Reymund Luna – Infanta, Quezon (September 29, 2017)
Atty. Expectacion Baldeo – Tiaong, Quezon (December 3, 2017)
Atty. Jonah John Ungab (Ronda Cebu Vice Mayor) – Cebu City (February 19, 2018)
Atty. Henry Joseph Labrador Herrera – Atimonan, Quezon (April 22, 2018)
Atty. Ramy Tagnong (legal officer, Calabarzon police) – Antipolo City, Rizal (May 4, 2018)
Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco – Quezon City (May 11, 2018)
Atty. Geronimo Marabe, Jr. – Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental (May 22, 2018)
Special Prosecutor Madonna Joy Ednaco-Tanyag – Quezon City (June 4, 2018)
Judge Ricky Begino – MTC-Presentacion, Camarines Sur (June 12, 2018)
Atty. Joey Galit – Cainta, Rizal (June 21, 2018)
Atty. Salvador Solima (Former Prosecutor)- Cebu City (July 2, 2018)
Atty. Rafael Atutubo – Bacolod City (August 23, 2018)
Atty. Connie del Rio Villamor – Tagum City (September 24, 2018)
Atty. Edeljulio Romero – Roxas City (September 28, 2018)
Judge Edmundo Pintac – RTC Ozamiz City (October 8, 2018)
Atty. Benjamin Ramos – Kabankalan City (November 6, 2018, 11:00 p.m.)
Atty. Mary Ann Castro (former Assistant Prosecutor in Cebu City) – Cebu (January 17, 2019)
Atty. Rex Jasper Lopoz – Tagum City (March 13, 2019)
Judge Reymar Lacaya – RTC Branch 28 in Liloy Zamboanga del Norte (May 10, 2019)
Atty. Adilberto Golla Jr. – Brgy. San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal (May 17, 2019)
Atty. Val Crisostomo – Dagupan City, Pangasinan, (May 17, 2019)
Atty. Anthony Trinidad – Bacolod City (July 25, 2019)
Atty. Irineo Michael Cabugoy – Antipolo City (September 6, 2019)
Atty. Exequil Dagala (former judge) – Siargao, Nov. 1, 2019
Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez – Tagudin, Ilocos Sur (Nov. 5, 2019)
Atty. Edgar Mendoza (former Congressman)-Quezon Jan. 9, 2020
Atty. Anselmo “Sato” Carlos – Pampanga, Jan. 28, 2020
Atty. Fredric Anthony Santos – Feb. 19, 2020 in front of Southernside Montessori School, Katihan St., Brgy. Poblacion, Muntinlupa
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.