Lawyers in PH are ‘sitting ducks’ as killing of jurists continue – NUPL
MANILA, Philippines — The killing of another lawyer in Cebu City shows the assassination of lawyers continues unabated, and every attorney is a “sitting duck,” said the National Union of People’s Lawyers on Thursday.
“No words, indeed. Another colleague has fallen with his boots on. We had lost count. It has not stopped and every lawyer is a sitting duck,” said NUPL President Edre Olalia in a statement.
Earlier in the day, a veteran lawyer, Rex Jose Mario Fernandez, was shot and killed by an unidentified assailant on Duterte Street in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City on Thursday.
READ: Cebu lawyer killed
He was a founding member of NUPL in 2007 and a member of the human rights activist group Karapatan.
“He was passionate, intense and brave, even as he was unique in many ways. He handled many an amparo cases of activists when it was a promising remedy then,” added Olalia.
The union leader also said that Fernandez continued to collaborate with fellow human rights lawyers even after he became inactive in NUPL.
He also “castigated” the Duterte administration “which he had hitherto placed his hope on to bring about change.”
“He died disillusioned that it was not meant to be. Rest in peace already Rex. You fought a good fight,” said Alalio.
Meanwhile the NUPL’s Cebu Chapter condemned the killing of Fernandez.
According to the chapter, his murder supports the long attacks against lawyers, paralegals, and human rights workers that have dramatically increased since the start of the Duterte administration. Fernandez is the 57th lawyer killed under the Duterte administration and the eleventh lawyer slain in Central Visayas within the same period.
“NUPL Cebu demands justice and accountability for the killing of Atty. Rex and the unresolved killings of lawyers, paralegals, and human rights workers,” the group said.
The Cebuano chapter then reiterated its call to the National Government to comply with its constitutional and international law obligations, and guarantee the safety and integrity of human rights defenders and members of the legal profession.
“In honor of Atty. Rex, we will not be deterred. We shall continue rising to the occasion in our promise to uphold human rights for all. We will hold the line even more,” it said.
Her ambush came barely three weeks after another Cebu lawyer, Joey Luis Wee, was shot dead by an assailant while on his way to his law office in Cebu City on November 23.
According to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the number of lawyers killed has soared by 500 percent since President Rodrigo Duterte came into power in 2016.
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