Tag Archives: Integrated Bar of the Philippines

The Philippines: IBP condemns attack on Cotabato City lawyer; PNP, NBI action sought


The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Sunday condemned the attempt on the life of a lawyer in Cotabato City, and requested the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to provide protection.

The IBP, in a statement, said lawyers like Atty. Ronald Torres — who was on his way home when he and his driver were shot by unidentified gunmen — are given the “difficult task of striving for justice.”

“Apart from instilling fear and restlessness in the hearts and minds of his family, such an occurrence plainly subverts the administration of justice, which is one of the hallmarks of our free and civilized society,” said IBP.

This danger, the IBP said, may “unduly temper his zeal in representing his client to the fullest extent under the law.”

 “The IBP thus respectfully calls upon our law enforcement agencies, particularly the PNP and the NBI, to thoroughly investigate the matter, exact accountability, and all the more significantly, elevate state responsibility to guarantee that lawyers can do their job without fear of reprisal or violence.”

“The IBP stands beside Atty. Torres on his quest to bring the perpetrators to justice and in his fidelity to the oath he gave as a member of the bar,” it added.

Torres was on board his bullet-proof vehicle when gunmen opened at him and his driver. Both escaped unharmed.

Torres later said that he had no known enemies and believed the attempt on his life was work-related.

Philippines: Events of 2021



Serious human rights abuses continued in the Philippines in 2021. On September 15, the International Criminal Court (ICC) agreed to open a formal investigation into possible “crimes against humanity” committed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” from 2016 to 2019, and extrajudicial executions committed in Davao City in the southern Philippines from 2011 to 2016, when Duterte was mayor.

In October, Maria Ressa, the co-founder and executive editor of the news website Rappler, won the Nobel Peace Prize for defending media freedom, specifically for resisting the Duterte government’s attempts to muzzle the press.

In July, the Philippine government and the United Nations launched a joint “human rights program” to address human rights violations and accountability failings in the country, reflecting domestic and international concerns about “drug war” killings. Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, consider the program inadequate, and continue to call for an independent international investigation.

Killings of civilians and “red-tagging”—accusing activists and others of being combatants or supporters of the communist New People’s Army—are endemic to the government’s counterinsurgency campaign. Many of those red-tagged are subsequently killed. Journalists covering the insurgency or investigating abuses and corruption also face harassment and violence.


Killing of Activists, Rights Defenders

The country’s 52-year-long communist insurgency continued in 2021. During counter-insurgency operations against the New People’s Army (NPA), government security forces frequently targeted leftist activists, including peasant leaders, environmentalists, human rights lawyers, and Indigenous group heads, among others. Government and military officials often “red-tag” such individuals through announcements and social media, putting them at grave risk of attack.

In March, nine individuals belonging to different activist groups were killed during police raids in the Calabarzon region south of Manila. All those killed were previously accused of communist involvement. The simultaneous police raids occurred two days after President Duterte publicly ordered law enforcement officials to “finish off” communist insurgents. Human rights groups rejected claims that the victims were rebels or rebel supporters. In December 2020, police killed nine members of an Indigenous people’s community on the island of Panay, in the central Philippines.

The counterinsurgency campaign has likewise targeted lawyers, including some representing clients who have been “red-tagged.” In Cebu City in August, gunmen shot dead Rex Fernandez, a human rights lawyer whose group, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, provides legal services to activists. Juan Macababbad, a human rights lawyer who worked on environment and Indigenous rights cases, was shot dead in September, by gunmen in South Cotabato province, in the southern Philippines.



Fixing human rights disaster under Duterte should be priority for next president – HRW

IBP seeks protection for court officers after latest Cavite killing

The Philippines: Police arrest suspected gunman in Cavite assistant city prosecutor’s murder


Police arrest suspected gunman in Cavite assistant city prosecutor’s slay

The Philippine National Police says 44-year-old Marvin Linaban was arrested during a buy-bust operation

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday, January 9, said it has arrested the suspect behind the killing of Assistant City Prosecutor Edilberto Mendoza, the 66th lawyer killed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Marvin Linaban, 44 years old, was arrested during a buy-bust operation in Dasmariñas City, Cavite, on Friday, January 7. Police said he admitted to the killing and “expressed remorse and willingness to execute an extrajudicial confession.”

Mendoza was gunned down at close range in Trece Martires City, Cavite, on December 31, 2021. CCTV footage showed a lone gunman attacking Mendoza while he was doing his morning exercise in front of his home.

“If all evidence and facts check out, the arrest of Linaban could be a major breakthrough in the investigation of the murder of [Attorney] Mendoza,” PNP chief Police General Dionardo Carlos said in a statement.

Aside from Linaban, the Cavite Drug Enforcement Unit also arrested a certain Elvin Esguerra, who was injured in a shootout that ensued, according to police.

Police recovered two firearms, which have been turned over to the PNP Forensic Group, and sachets of possible shabu worth P69,000.





https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/balitambayan/promdi/817514/hitman-na-bumaril-sa-piskal-na-nag-e-ehersisyo-sa-tapat-ng-bahay-sa-cavite-huli-sa-buy-bust/story/ (TAGALOG)

https://today.fr-24.com/nouvelles/341424.html (FRANCAIS)

Integrated Bar of the Philippines count of lawyers killed under Duterte inaccurate


Your editorial “Impunity gone berserk” (9/22/2021) contains much with which all would agree—the killing of lawyers with impunity is a threat to the rule of law and therefore to a democratic Philippines. However, it seems that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has also gone berserk.

The number of lawyers killed under President Duterte, now 69, is lamentable, but it is nowhere near the 500-percent increase that the IBP proclaims and which, willy nillly, the media continues to trumpet unquestioningly. Unfortunately, the IBP continues to use the inaccurate numbers first produced by the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Here are the numbers recorded by the Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers of the International Association of People’s Lawyers: According to numerous monitoring groups, there were 18 lawyers killed from the Marcos to Estrada presidencies, 83 under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and 47 under President Benigno Aquino III. Thus, pre-Duterte there were at least 148 killings.

Your editorial cites the IBP claim that ”the number of lawyers killed since President Duterte came into power in 2016 has skyrocketed by 500 percent.” That is obviously a claim that cannot be justified. What is true is that at 1.1 lawyer killed per month, the rate under Mr. Duterte far exceeds the rates under his two predecessors: Arroyo at 0.74 and Aquino at 0.65.

The IBP would be well advised to seek ways in which the lawyers can protect themselves. Relying on the government, especially when state forces are involved in lawyer killings, is rather like waiting for snow in Manila. They might follow the example being set now in Nigeria where the national Bar has called a temporary boycott of the courts, in similar manner as in France, India, and Pakistan. Governments must be persuaded to act, and not only expected to do so.

Gill H. Boehringer

co-chair, Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers, International Association of People’s Lawyers





The Philippines: FORSEA Dialogue on Attacks on Lawyers in the Philippines


With Prof. Gill Boehringer, Co-Chair of the Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers, IAPL






NUPL lawyer Juan Macababbad. Image from Karapatan
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The Philippines: Lawyer in South Cotabato shot dead outside house



Lawyer Juan Macababad was a public interest lawyer. Two unidentified gunmen shot him in the head seven times.

Public interest lawyer Juan Macababad was shot dead outside his home in Surallah town, South Cotabato, on Wednesday, September 15, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) confirmed to Rappler.

“Atty. Macababad was gunned down at around 5:30 in the afternoon earlier just outside of his house by two unidentified individuals. According to initial reports, he sustained seven gunshot wounds to the head,” IBP South Cotabato and General Santos chapter president Remigio Rojas told Rappler in a phone interview Wednesday night.

Macababad was declared dead on arrival, said Rojas.

Macababad is a member of the red-tagged National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), and the chairman of the Socsksargen chapter of the  Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM).

“He’s active in peoples’ lawyering, he handled a wide array of cases from civil to criminal. Wala naman akong nabalitaan na controversial at high profile cases ang nahawakan. (I haven’t heard of any controversial or high profile case that he handled),” said Rojas.

“He was a silent, unassuming & amiable guy who had a ready smile behind his rather fatherly bespectacled profile. We are losing the good guys out there while the bad guys are frolicking and plundering all over,” said NUPL president Edre Olalia.





The Philippines: Supreme Court vows to address murder of lawyers


Gunshots from a treacherous assassin felled long-time human rights lawyer Rex Jesus Mario A. Fernandez and seriously wounded his driver in Cebu City on 26 August 2021.

The masked gunman stealthily approached and shot Fernandez with a .45 caliber pistol as Fernandez’s vehicle slowed down at a busy junction along Salvador Street, Sitio Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, at around 4:10 pm. After the shooting, the killer fled on board a motorcycle driven by a co-conspirator.

Fernandez, 64, died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

His ambush slay, which was caught on video, came in the heels of a growing number of killings of lawyers and human rights defenders.

Per the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ count, Fernandez’s murder is the 64th recorded killing of lawyers that happened under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Supreme Court

The unabated killing of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers has prompted the Supreme Court to act.

In a statement dated 27 August 2021, the highest court condoled with Fernandez’s family and friends.

Expressing concern over Fernandez’s ambush-slay, the court remarked: “The killing of any lawyer is of serious concern to all of us.”

“Violence,” stressed Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, “solves nothing.”

“It is anathema to the rule of law.”

The court, Leonen said, continues “to sift through and analyze the voluminous records and reports submitted to us upon our call to discern whether there are patterns in the killing of lawyers and threats to judges so that we can evaluate a strategic response”.

The court “will welcome new reports to be submitted by the police and by other organizations” involving Fernandez’s death, Leonen added, as he urged “law enforcement authorities, and human rights and other groups” to submit their own “findings by the end of September at the latest.”

The highest judicial body’s Committee on Human Rights that he chairs, Leonen vowed, “will be submitting our report and recommendations for the action of the Court En Banc.






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The Philippines: Cebu lawyer killed


A veteran lawyer, who recently held a “hunger strike” after the management of the condominium he was living in cut his water supply, was shot dead by a still unknown assailant along R. Duterte Street in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City on Thursday, August 26.

Lawyer Rex Jose Mario Fernandez, 62, was on board his car when he was shot by the gunman who waited for him in a corner at around 4:10 p.m., according to Police Major Jonathan Dela Cerna, chief of the Guadalupe Police Station.

Fernandez’s driver, who police investigators have not yet identified, sustained gunshot wounds to his body and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

A woman in the back seat of the car survived although investigators have yet to determine her identity.

A closed-circuit television (CCTV) in the area showed that the lone gunman, who wore a red jacket, immediately boarded a getaway motorcycle driven by another person.

At least six empty shells of a .45 caliber pistol were recovered at the crime scene.













That makes 67 lawyers killed under Duterte. according to the International Association of People’s Lawyers who have been monitoring killing of lawyers around the globe for years. The rate at 1.08 per month is higher than the rates under his predecessors.

The Philippines: Australian law professor reacts to killings of lawyers



Last week, in response to my July 30 column on the killing of lawyers,  Gill H. Boehringer, Professor and former Dean (ret.) of Macquarie University Law School in Sydney, Australia sent an email that clarifies some of the points raised:

 “Thank you for your column today in the Manila Standard. It is important that the desperate situation of the lawyers in the Philippines is brought to the attention of the public and, of course, that something be done about this dreadful phenomenon, and others, that face the Filipino people.

“Unfortunately, the situation is worse than you suggest through no fault of your own. The material released by the IBP—and that by FLAG, Rappler and the NUPL—all understates the problem of lawyer killings. Why they do this is not known to me.“

“I am the Co-Chair of the Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers of the International Association of People’s Lawyers. We have been independently monitoring the attacks on lawyers in the Philippines for more than a decade.

“Our research, based on sources, including the PNP, IBP, Filipino monitoring groups such as several mentioned above, media, academic, foreign monitoring groups, reports from official monitoring by the UN and independent Fact Finding Missions, reveals the following:“

“Lawyers killed under Arroyo: 83, with 4 survivors; under Aquino: 47 with 1 survivor; Duterte 66 with 17 survivors.

“Assuming the IBP and the others are correct (although I expect they are on the low side) there were 28 killed from Marcos to Estrada. That means that prior to Duterte there were 158 lawyers killed prior to Duterte’s 66.

“Why the claim is being made that there has been a 500% increase only those who make such a claim can answer. But to indulge in such historical revisionism is surely not the way to understand the nature of the problem nor to come up with solutions to, or even mitigation of, the problem.








The Philippines: Thorough probe ordered on sniper attack on female lawyer, husband in Davao City


Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), has ordered a thorough investigation on the assassination of a female lawyer and her husband who were shot by a sniper outside their house in Davao City.

Eleazar said the use of sniper in the killing of Hilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie on July 14 was an indication that it was well-planned.

It was the female lawyer who was first shot after she was asked to check on her vehicle. Her husband was also shot dead when he went out to check on her wife who was then slumped in front of their house.

“It was well-planned that it why we are focusing on all the possible motive of the attack and the people who planned this incident,” said Eleazar.

Authorities said the couple just finished their radio program when the crime happened.

Eleazar expressed confidence that this case would be resolved in no time.

“In the meantime, let us wait for the result of the investigation. I am confident that this will be resolved,” said Eleazar.

The Davao City police has said they are looking at all possible angles for the crime, including the cases on land disputes which were handled by the victims.

Authorities already obtained a CCTV footage which could be of help in the investigation.