Press Release
July 27, 2019

De Lima presses Senate to probe killings of lawyers

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Senate to conduct an immediate investigation into what she called the systematic attacks and continued assault against members of the legal profession, including lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 33, De Lima lamented how the roster of lawyers in the country is rapidly transforming into a list of names of casualties caught in the middle of the administration's violent war on drugs.

"This escalating and alarming trend and spate of attacks and killings of members of the Bar makes it imperative for the government and law authorities and institutions to conduct a thorough investigation and ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice," she said.

She added the need "to provide adequate measures to address and ensure the personal and professional safety of Filipino lawyers and to effectively prevent any further attacks on their independence and security."

Among the recent lawyers murdered in cold blood was lawyer Anthony Trinidad, a known human rights defender in Negros, who was killed by still-unidentified assassins while onboard his vehicle and shot him several times in Negros Oriental last July 23.

Last May 17, lawyer Val Crisostomo was shot by a gunman at Dagupan City Justice Hall in Pangasinan. He was among the lawyers who filed cases against the National Bureau of Investigation for conducting alleged illegal raids in the Peryahan ng Bayan games in Pangasinan.

Recently, an international delegation of lawyers that had conducted a fact-finding mission into the attacks against Philippine lawyers, judges, prosecutors and paralegals, were themselves subjected to surveillance and received threats last March 18.

The lady Senator from Bicol said a Senate probe is urgently needed because the targeted and systematic attacks against the members of the bar is detrimental not only to the legal profession but also to those who run towards them for relief.

"As the HRW (Human Rights Watch) puts it, '[b]y silencing a lawyer, many victims are also silenced. But then perhaps that is the purpose,'" De Lima pointed out.

From the time Mr. Duterte commenced his so-called drug war, figures reveal that an average of 33 people are killed daily nationwide. Aside from drug suspects, the victims of regular killings have now expanded to activists and human rights workers and defenders.

Chilling reports by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the period of July 1, 2016 to Feb. 4, 2019 further divulged an alarming estimate of at least 29,000 cases categorized as deaths under inquiry (DUI) were recorded nationwide.

In the 17th Congress, De Lima filed a similar resolution seeking to inquire into the spate of killings and attacks against members of the legal profession but it was unacted upon by the Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and Justice and Human Rights.

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