NBI closing in on suspects in Abra lawyer killing
The National Bureau of Investigation already has suspects in the killing of Abra lawyer Ma. Saniata Gonzales-Alzate.
“We already have a suspect and the NBI is already on top of this,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in his radio show on Saturday.
Though Remulla did not share the identity of the suspects, he said the NBI was already collating evidence such as the closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of Gonzales-Alzate’s murder.
“All of the CCTV [footage] are being collected and looked into by the NBI. They were able to trace the route the suspects took,” Remulla said.
The Palace also vowed on Saturday to hunt down those responsible for the killing of Gonzales-Alzate.
“We will ensure that our law enforcement agencies work relentlessly to bring to justice those behind this heinous act,” said noted jurist and incumbent Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, who also hails from Abra.
Bersamin, who described Gonzales-Alzate as a “fearless and steadfast lawyer,” said her death was “a tragedy as well for the province of Abra and for the legal profession.”
Gonzales-Alzate, wife of former Abra Regional Trial Court Judge Raphiel Alzate, died at the Dr. Petronilo V. Seares Sr. Memorial Hospital where she was rushed after being shot on Thursday outside her house in Bangued, Abra.
Shot 8 times
The lawyer was shot by one of the two men on a motorcycle while she was parking her car, according to the Bangued police.
Closed circuit television footage from the scene of the crime showed a man in a gray polo and black cap walking up to her car and opening fire into the vehicle before running to his accomplice on a getaway motorcycle.
Before riding off, the two fired again at the vehicle. Initial police reports say she was shot at least eight times.
Gonzales-Alzate was a former president of the Abra chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), a public interest lawyer, and IBP Commissioner of Bar Discipline since 2015.
The IBP condemned the killing, saying “there is no place, nor can there be any tolerance, for those who would assail those dedicated to upholding the legal profession and cause of justice.”
Former Vice President Leni Robredo, also called for justice for Gonzales-Alzate, who she said played an active role in her election campaign in Abra last year.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also condemned the killing of Gonzales-Alzate, the third lawyer to be murdered during the Marcos administration.
In a statement, the CHR reminded the government of its duty to protect members of the court, as they are important in ensuring accountability especially for gross human rights violations.
“Threats and attacks against the members of the legal profession directly affront the rule of law,” the statement read.
“It is in the best interest of the government to protect lawyers so they may do their duty of ensuring justice without fear of threats and retaliation, especially for those who continue to stand up for the rights and interest of the weak, vulnerable, and marginalized members of the society,” the IBP added.
Before her death, Gonzales-Alzate had provided legal aid to a victim of alleged illegal arrest, detention and torture by police officers in January.
She was able to secure a writ of amparo from the Regional Trial Court in Abra. The writ is a protective judicial remedy that includes specific measures against violations of constitutional rights to life, liberty or security.
Investigators told the Inquirer that they were looking into her court cases.