IBP, NUPL seek end to killings of lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — Two groups of lawyers on Tuesday asked the country’s highest officials to use their powers to end violent attacks on their ranks, saying that recent killings of members of the legal profession would erode public trust in the government and the judicial system.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) made the appeal in separate letters to President Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta after three lawyers in Cebu and Palawan provinces were murdered over the past few weeks.
The appeal was also prompted by the National Bureau of Investigation’s confirmation that the mutilated body recovered in Capas, Tarlac province, on Oct. 30 was that of retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro. He was believed to have been abducted after he was reported missing.
IBP president Domingo Cayosa said 54 lawyers had been slain since Duterte, a former public prosecutor, became President in 2016.
The President, who earned the moniker “The Punisher” for endorsing vigilantism when he was the mayor of Davao City, had previously threatened lawyers for defending drug suspects.
He had also locked horns with former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno when he publicly named so-called narcojudges, some of whom were assassinated.
“We appeal to our brother-lawyers in all branches of government who occupy positions of great authority and power to take concerted action to decisively address attacks on lawyers,” Cayosa said in his letter.
“When lawyers, prosecutors, and workers in the justice sector are murdered with impunity and alarming regularity, no one feels safe; our people lose trust and faith in our government and its justice system, and the unscrupulous are emboldened to take the law in their criminal hands,” he said.
On the other hand, members of the NUPL and other lawyers went to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to personally deliver their letter to Peralta, who has been pushing for the establishment of a separate protective security unit for the judiciary similar to the United States Marshals Service.
“We respectfully request the Supreme Court of the Philippines, through [Peralta], to make representation with the executive department and the authorities to take immediate action to protect lawyers in the Philippines as they perform their function to protect their clients’ rights and uphold the rule of law,” they said. INQ