CHR urges senate to approve lawyers’ protection bill
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Sunday called for the immediate passage of a Senate bill that would protect members of the legal profession, following the murder of a lawyer in Nueva Ecija province on Friday.
Senate Bill No. 1721, filed by detained Sen. Leila de Lima, amends the Revised Penal Code by increasing the penalty for crimes committed against lawyers and officials in the justice sector.
The CHR’s call followed the killing of Bayani Dalangin, the 48th lawyer slain under the Duterte administration.
Dalangin, 73, was shot by a hooded man in front of his office in Talavera town, reportedly while attending to his clients.
Witnesses said the gunman, who rode a motorbike, called the lawyer, shot him multiple times and fled.
Malacañang on Sunday condemned the murder.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured the public that the government would not cease in its investigation until the mastermind behind the killing of Dalangin was named.
“We will not tolerate any act of violence against any person, everyone in the Philippines, Filipino or not. The President will not allow it,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which described Dalangin as a “good, brilliant and respected” lawyer, also condemned the murder.
The IBP said the murder was an attack not only on a member of the Philippine bar but also on the legal order and justice system.
According to the CHR, the increasing number of violent attacks and extrajudicial killings of lawyers in the country demands serious attention and concern from both the government and the public.
“These grave threats and attacks impair the ability of lawyers and other members of the justice sector to provide effective legal representation and hamper them to freely exercise their profession,” said Jacqueline de Guia, the agency’s spokesperson.
She added that the worsening impunity in the country continues to undermine the proper functioning of the rule of law, including the right to remedies and fair trial.
The CHR called on law enforcement agencies to investigate the case and for the government to guarantee the safety and physical integrity of lawyers through adequate protection measures.
Last year, international lawyers said the government had not done an “effective investigation” of the murders of lawyers, prosecutors and judges who were killed under the Duterte administration.
—Reports from Jhesset O. Enano and Julie M. Aurelio
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