CHR probes slay attempt on Abra lawyer
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will investigate the attempt on the life of lawyer Hamilcar Bigornia, Abra chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Bigornia and his aide were stabbed by one of the intruders in his office in Bangued, Abra on Jan. 9.
The assailant was shot dead by another aide of Bigornia, while authorities arrested his other accomplice.
“In line with our mandate as the country’s independent human rights institution, our regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region is conducting a motu proprio investigation in aid of the pursuit of truth and accountability,” CHR said in a statement on Wednesday.
It likewise joined the call of the IBP for the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to hasten their probe into the incident and “other resolved instances documented in the past.”
The independent human rights body pointed out that threats, intimidations and attacks against people in the legal profession remain a concern of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office and a subject of the recommendations earlier raised by other UN member states for the Philippine government to address.
“Lawyers, judges, and all those in the legal profession are vital in administering justice, finding the truth, and protecting human rights. When lawyers are targeted, the rule of law is similarly under threat, which runs the risk of impunity persisting,” the CHR stressed.
It then expressed willingness to work with the government in improving the safeguards for lawyers and human rights defenders in the country “to the benefit of the nation’s weak, vulnerable and marginalized.”
In 2021, the Supreme Court (SC) sternly warned the public against threatening lawyers and judges as it called these “no less than an assault on the judiciary.”
“[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.
The SC noted that assaulting the judiciary is equivalent to shaking “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,” it added.