Killings of members of the legal profession can erode the public’s trust in the justice system and embolden criminals to take the law into their own hands, Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Domingo Egon Cayosa said Thursday.
During the Senate hearing into spate of unlawful killings including Filipino lawyers, Cayosa said ordinary people may lose their belief and trust in the justice system if lawyers, prosecutors and judges are slain and their killers remain scot-free.
The IBP president also said that the killings may also weaken the resolve of lawyers, law enforcers, judges and prosecutors that “they do not only stake their career, profession, but also their lives and if something happens to them, justice will be slow,” he said partly in Filipino.
Since the start of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, 56 lawyers have been killed. A large majority of these cases remain unsolved even years later.
Cayosa stressed: “Kung hihina ang loob ng law enforcers, mga nagpapatakbo ng hustisya, luluwang at lalalim ang magiging role ng mga kriminal because they will take the law into their own hands.”
(If the resolve of law enforcers, those who turn the wheels of justice weakens, the role of criminals will get bigger and deeper because they will take the law into their own hands.)
Low prosecution rate in lawyer killings
The IBP president said they now have a lawyer-justice-security program, which includes coordination with law enforcement and security agencies of the government.
Under this scheme, the IBP has better coordination with government agencies at the national level which helped in identifying, arresting and charging of supposed perpetrators of the crimes against lawyers.
In December, lawyer Maria Concepcion Landero-Ole, also from Cebu, was gunned down in Looc, Danao City. In the same month, the National Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the mutilated body found in Capas, Tarlac was former Court of Appeals Justice Normandie Pizarro.
Last week, Court Administrator Midas Marquez said they are drafting a report for Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on their recent meetings with different stakeholders in the justice sector on the continued attacks on, and killings of, their colleagues.
The Department of Justice is also creating an inventory of cases that are under investigation, are undergoing preliminary investigation and those that have reached the court for trial “for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said drawing up the inventory is still ongoing and may be done in another two weeks.