March 16, 2019
An international delegation has arrived in Manila to investigate the killing of lawyers in the country, days after the March 13 murder of Rex Jasper Lopoz in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, brought to 38 the number of lawyers killed since President Duterte assumed office in 2016.
The delegation is composed of lawyers from six countries—Belgium, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and the United States—who are tasked with interviewing survivors, victims’ relatives, government agencies, judges and prosecutors until Monday.
Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), which is hosting the delegation, said the group came to the country on their own initiative after the killing in November last year of founding NUPL member Benjamin Tarug Ramos in Negros Occidental.
“When he was killed, a lot of condemnation came in, and some of them asked, ‘Is there anything we can do? Can we come down and check what the real situation is?’” Olalia said.
Focus on 15 cases
Various lawyers’ groups are represented in the delegation, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Union of International Advocates and Day of Endangered Lawyers Foundation.
Olalia said the group would investigate 15 recent killings that had occurred throughout Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao by speaking with lawyers themselves who had survived near-death situations or the families of those who had been slain.
(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 16/03/19)