The Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Friday again condemned what it described as “disturbing and increasing frequency of lawyer killings” in the country.
IBP President Burt Estrada stressed that lawyers were mandated to strive for justice, and they must be able to do so without fear of reprisal or violence.
“Our country cannot attain true independence and freedom when conformity is extracted by fear and criticisms silenced by force,” Estrada said in a statement.
The country’s mandatory lawyers’ group made the statement following the killing of lawyer Juan Macabadbad, vice chairman of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), who was killed in front of his residence in Surallah, South Cotabato last Wednesday, Sept. 15.
“The IBP grieves and is appalled by the blatant assassinations of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors with impunity,” Estrada said.
Reports showed, without mentioning the years, that 58 lawyers have been killed, 34 judges slain with only two cases had resulted in convictions, and several prosecutors waylaid.
With Macabadbad’s killing, the IBP demanded “a nationwide effort to protect our lawyers and judges.”
The IBP vowed to work with the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police to address and arrest these rising attacks against its members.
The group also asked the police authorities and investigative agencies to formulate and implement specific measures to improve the security of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors and to expeditiously resolve its investigators on these killings so that the perpetrators are swiftly and truly held accountable.
The IBP said it would also assist in, and monitor the investigation and prosecution of Macabadbad’s case so that the perpetrators can be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
On Sept. 16, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the inter-agency committee on extra-judicial killings (EJKs) is awaiting a report from the police on the killing of Macabadbad.
"As part of standard procedure, the Department of Justice will await the report of local police investigators and evaluate whether the killing falls under the jurisdiction of the inter-agency committee on EJKs,” Guevarra said.