Government prosecutor slain in Davao del Sur

Government prosecutor slain in Davao del Sur

Government prosecutor slain in Davao del Sur

GONE TOO SOON Davao Occidental Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Eleanor dela Peña, who was killed in Digos City, on Monday, is shown here when she served as president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao City chapter in 2019. —Eleanor dela Peña Facebook

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Lawyers’ groups here and in the country were outraged over the killing of the assistant provincial prosecutor of Davao Occidental at past 5 p.m. on Monday while she was on her way home to Digos City in Davao del Sur.

Lawyer Eleanor “Ning” P. dela Peña, 54, was alone and driving her white Ford Raptor pickup to her house in Chapter 8, Tienda, Barangay Aplaya in Digos City when attacked by an assassin, said Police Lt. Col. Florante S. Retes, chief of the Digos City police.


READ: Former Davao Oriental town mayor shot dead in Davao City


Dela Peña, who was assigned at the Davao Occidental Provincial Prosecutors Office in the capital town of Malita and was heading home to Digos, was found dead with a bullet wound in the head, at the ambush site near her residence by responding personnel of the Digos City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. Digos is about 75 kilometers or about an hour and a half drive from Malita.

She was the fourth lawyer killed under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration, according to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), the group which, since July 2022, had recorded 43 incidents of attacks on lawyers, including six attempted killings.

Four hours after the killing, at around 9:40 p.m., police arrested a man identified as Dela Peña’s half brother along the national highway of Talas village in Sulop town of Davao del Sur.

READ: Lawyer escapes slay try in Davao City

Police identified Arnel Galot dela Peña, 56, a former policeman and half brother of the victim, as the suspect based on the statements of the victim’s son Kenneth De Leon, the closed-circuit television footage near the crime scene and descriptions by witnesses.

Police were looking at land dispute between the half siblings as a motive behind the killing, according to sources privy to the investigation.


The suspect was placed in the custody of the Digos City Police Station, according to the Davao Police Regional Office on Tuesday.

Atmosphere of fear

Both the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in Southern Mindanao described Dela Peña, the former president of the Davao City chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as a dedicated public servant and a loving mother to her four children.

“The killings of lawyers have created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among members of the bar. When perpetrators are not held accountable, the threat of violence discourages lawyers from taking on certain professional duties and hinders their ability to carry out their responsibilities effectively,” said a joint statement signed by Lawyers Antonio Azarcon, UPLM chair and Manuel Quibod, regional coordinator of FLAG Southern Mindanao.

The groups added: “We call upon the Marcos Jr. administration to take decisive action to end these senseless acts of violence and impunity and to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”

Moreover, they said, Dela Peña’s “senseless killing is an affront to the entire legal community and a brazen desecration of the fundamental principles of justice she upheld.”

The lawyers said they refused to live in fear and instead demanded that their safety and security be ensured, “knowing that the independent exercise of our profession is crucial for maintaining the rule of law and upholding justice.”

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“We call on authorities to swiftly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of Prosecutor Dela Peña’s dastardly murder,” the statement said.

TAGS: attacks on lawyers, Davao Occidental, land dispute

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