Jan 20, 2021 @ 11:26

Guevarra meets IBP, other groups over lawyer killings

The Department of Justice recently met officials of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and other groups to discuss ways and means in addressing violence against members of the legal community.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed this on Wednesday, saying the meeting via Zoom application last January 13 has provided a forum to discuss issues confronting the judiciary, specifically the unabated killings of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

“In this regard, the DOJ (Department of Justice) will come up with an inventory of cases under investigation by the NBI, under preliminary investigation by the prosecution service, and undergoing trial in court, for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely.”

“Other issues, such as providing greater protection to law practitioners, prosecutors, and judges, will be tackled in subsequent joint activities with the IBP,” Guevarra said.

Last month, lawyer’s group Centerlaw has joined the IBP, civil society organizations, and families of those slain in condemning all killings and violence against lawyers.

“With our halls of justice gripped in terror, Centerlaw calls on the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police to ensure that thorough, impartial, and focused investigations are carried out and to exact speedy accountability for the slain sentinels of justice.”

” These killings have bred a culture of fear among members of the legal profession in particular and the wider public in general. This fear debilitates and even obstructs the wheels of justice. It compromises the integrity of our judicial system and casts serious doubt on the fair exercise of the rule of law, ” the group said in a statement.

Also, several lawyers asked the Supreme Court and other branches of government to act on the successive acts of violence against lawyers and judges.

“There have been at least 54 lawyers and judges who have become victims of extrajudicial killings and violent crimes since 2016 and we fear that the state of impunity in the country today will further fuel the spate of killings, not just against members of the legal profession but also ordinary people,” the two-page letter read.

“We ask the government to act and put a stop to this continuing violence,” it added.

Among the signatories were former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, former SC spokesperson Theodore Te, Atty. Howard Calleja, Far Eastern University Institute of Law Dean Mel Sta. Maria, and former Ateneo Law School dean Antonio La Viña.

The lawyers requested the high court to (1) to ensure a thorough, prompt, impartial, and independent investigation into all the killings of lawyers; (2) to convene a dialogue between the SC, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other relevant state agencies and civil society groups to discuss interventions to ensure the safety and security of lawyers; (3) and to demand accountability and justice for the victims of extra judicial killings and violence against lawyers and judges.”

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