IBP: Of 57 slays, only 5 brought to court
Of the 57 killings of judges, prosecutors and lawyers that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) recorded over the past four and a half years, the police have only managed to solve five while the rest have become cold cases.
“The identification, prosecution, arrest and charging of the suspects have been a bit slow,” Domingo Cayosa, president of the IBP, said adding that 90 percent of the cases don’t even have witnesses, theories or suspects.
Cayosa said he discussed the matter in a meeting with the Philippine National Police last week and the lawmen agreed to increase police visibility around courts where attacks usually happen.
Local government officials, Cayosa said, also agreed to install more closed-circuit television cameras if only to serve as deterrents.
He also said the IBP had been working with the top levels of the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to deal with the attacks.
The matter has become so bad, Cayosa said, that there were lawyers who ask potential clients if the opposing parties carry out killing before taking on a case.
He said there had been “un-peace and fear” from lawyers, prosecutors and judges in the wake of attacks on members of their profession.
While these professionals are courageous and understand the dangers that go with the job, it cannot be avoided that they would fear for their safety, he said.
“We fear that if this would continue and would not be stopped, our prosecutors, judges and lawyers would be hesitant to do their duty and it might slow down justice if that happens,” he said at an online briefing.
Cayosa said the condemnation of the situation by the Supreme Court and other officials helped deal with the problem.
“It is a very clear signal because we should fight the perception of some that it seems to be OK to kill,” he said, but said the condemnations should be followed by practical measures.
The Supreme Court issued its condemnation on Tuesday and ordered all lower courts to help in investigating them.
The high court acknowledged the complaints of the IBP, University of the Philippines College of Law, Free Legal Assistance Group and those who had questioned the constitutionality of the terror law.
“The court condemns in the strongest sense every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed, and where a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled. We do not and will not tolerate such acts that only perverse justice, defeat the rule of law, undermine the most basic of constitutional principles, and speculate on the worth of human lives,” it said.
“To threaten our judges and our lawyers is no less than an assault on the judiciary. To assault the judiciary is to shake the very bedrock on which the rule of law stands. This cannot be allowed in a civilized society like ours. This cannot go undenounced on the court’s watch,” the court said.
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