Prof. Gill H. Boehringer, Co-Chair, IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Macquarie University Law School
The IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers was established in 2015. Attacks on lawyers in the Philippines had been monitored for some years previously by Prof. . Boehringer. We are now preparing an extensive report on the killings under the three Presidents.
Given the current widespread concern in the Philippines about attacks on lawyers and others that threaten the rule of law and the very basis of a democratic system of governance, we are issuing some initial findings of our longstanding research project. This is especially important because recently there has been considerable discussion in the media about the comparative records of the three recent regimes. Much of that reportage has been based on inaccuracies in monitoring the attacks.
The Rate of Killings under three Presidents
Our research shows the increasing rate of killings under the Duterte regime:
Duterte 1.09 per month ( 63 killed in 58 months)
Aquino, B .65 per month ( 47 “ in 72 “ )
Arroyo .68 per month (78 “ in 114 “ )
In this we are in agreement with the monitoring by FLAG, Rappler and the NUPL. While their figure for killings under the Duterte government is 61, we differ slightly. We have established that at least 62 lawyers have been killed, but 63 if one counts, as we do, an abducted attorney about whom nothing has been heard in over 2 years. Our number, 63, also includes a Shari’a lawyer that other monitors have not listed. The Supreme Court has indicated that such lawyers are to be included in their recently announced review of attacks on legal professionals.
From various sources, we have lists of 78 killed (55 attorneys, 17 judges and 6 prosecutors) under President Arroyo and 47 under President Aquino (34 attorneys, 8 judges and 5 posecutors). The numbers reported by FLAG, only 9 killed under Arroyo and only 1 under Aquino, provide a distorted account of the killings of lawyers under those regimes. Obviously, the further two claims that those killed under Duterte are more than under any previous President, and that those killed under him are “more than those under all preceding Presidents” back to Marcos, are far from the reality and therefore not conducive to seeing the historical and systemic nature of the problem.