Number of lawyers killed since 2016 soared 500% – IBP
MANILA, Philippines — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Monday appealed to authorities anew to protect members of the country’s legal community, saying the number of lawyers killed has soared by 500 percent since President Rodrigo Duterte came into power in 2016 as compared to the past six administrations.
“The IBP grieves and is appalled by the increasing and sheer number of assassinations of lawyers, judges and prosecutors with impunity,” the group said in a statement.
“In stark contrast, the number of lawyers killed during the previous administrations, stretching way back to 1972, was [about] 10 for each administration,” it said.
“Indeed, the numbers, as these now stand under the present administration, have alarmingly increased by as much as 500 percent,” it lamented.
The country’s biggest organization of lawyers issued the statement a week after one of its members, lawyer Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie, and her husband, Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie, were gunned down just outside their house in Davao City, the President’s hometown.
She was the 63rd lawyer slain under the administration of Mr. Duterte, himself a lawyer and former state prosecutor.
Sapie’s killing happened just three weeks after Deputy City Prosecutor Victor Begtang Jr. of Ilagan City, Isabela province, was shot dead by a still unidentified gunman right inside his house in Conner, Apayao province, on June 23.
The IBP said Begtang was the ninth public prosecutor murdered since 2016.
The group said it would closely coordinate with the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police in resolving these violent attacks on members of the bar and the bench.
“[We call on the government] to formulate and implement specific measures to improve the security of lawyers, judges and prosecutors and to expeditiously resolve [the] investigation on these killings so that the perpetrators are swiftly and truly held accountable,” the IBP said.
Last March, the Supreme Court came out with a strong statement condemning the series of harassment and violent assaults on lawyers, a violent period that the country’s legal community had never seen before.
“To threaten our judges and our lawyers is no less than an assault on the judiciary,” the magistrates said.
“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,” they said.
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