April 1, 2019
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Monday reiterated her call for the Senate to investigate the continued spate of violent attacks against lawyers and other members of the legal profession.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 1031, de Lima lamented that the roll of lawyers was rapidly transforming into a long list of names of casualties caught in the middle of the administration’s bloody war on drugs.
“While initially hunting down drug users and drug lords, the killings would spread across sectors – with one pillar of defense after another being toppled down in brazen impunity,” de Lima said in a statement.
De Lima said the escalating and alarming trend and spate of attacks and killings of members of the Bar makes it imperative for the government and law enforcement authorities and institutions to conduct a thorough investigation and ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.
The detained senator recalled how the Duterte administration targeted the free press, Catholic church and the priests, the human rights defenders, among others, in order to make his brutal drug war succeed.
“It would not take long before the equation is completed: attack the last standing stronghold – that once destroyed could give the war on drugs the go-signal for overdrive; those who vowed to uphold, defend and protect the rule of law: the lawyers, prosecutors and judges,” said the former justice secretary.
De Lima said the Senate should consider looking into, among others, Atty. Rex Jasper Lopoz, then representative of accused in drug cases, who was killed by unidentified gunmen last March 13.
She also called for in-depth probe into the killing of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos, who was killed by riding-in-tandem assailants last November 6, 2018; and environmental lawyer Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green, who was shot dead by four motorcycle-riding gunmen in full view of her children last February 15, 2017.
Lopoz was the 38th lawyer who has been murdered since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016, records from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed.