IBP forms task force to probe murders, attacks vs lawyers
Noting that no attack against its members had been successfully resolved and prosecuted, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday has announced the creation of a task force that will investigate the killings of lawyers in the country.
“The apparent continued attacks on the members of the Bar, none of which had been successfully resolved or prosecuted, create an impression of impunity, wherein State forces appear indifferent and helpless, or, worse, in one case, even involved in such violent assaults,” the IBP said in a resolution by its Board of Governors.
“This impression of impunity, in turn, creates a chilling effect on members of the Bar, who, in the discharge of the solemn duties as officers of the court and guardians of the Rule of Law, are placed under a serious, grave and imminent threat to their life and family,” the IBP lamented. IBP is a mandatory organization of lawyers composed of over 55,000 members.
The IBP board of governors authorized their national president Atty. Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo to appoint the chairman and four members of the panel, “all of whom are members in good standing of the Integrated Bar and of proven probity, independence and competence.”
Based on the resolution, the national task force will be directed “to investigate, document, prosecute or assist in the prosecution of cases involving the murder or violent assault against the members of the Bar and/or their families.”
The task force is required to submit to the Board a semi-annual report.
The IBP also called on all its chapters to “provide the said Task Force their full cooperation, support and assistance in the investigation, documentation and prosecution of the said cases.”
The IBP was prompted to create a task force following the foiled ambush against Atty. Argel Cabatbat last Feb. 13 and the death of Atty. Jonah John Ungab, Vice Mayor of Ronda town in Cebu and counsel of self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa.
“The investigation of these cases has remained open-ended or unresolved nor has there been any of the said cases prosecuted before our courts of justice, with the perpetrators roaming freely in our midst and with the families of the victims haplessly and silently bearing the pain and suffering of a murdered loved one,” it explained.
The IBP has already condemned the attack on Cabatbat and Ungab and called on authorities to expedite the investigations and bring the perpetrators to justice. /jpv
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