December 23, 2018
A lawyer was wounded while her driver was killed in an ambush in Talisay, Negros Occidental on Friday night.
Erfe del Castillo, 44, suffered injuries in the arms and head after she was hit by glass shards. She remains confined at the Dr. Pablo Torre Medical Center.
Del Castillo’s driver Efren Palmares died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Initial investigation showed Del Castillo was in a silver Porsche driven by Palmares when they were shot along the Bacolod-Silay Airport access road in Barangay Matab-ang.
Police Officer 3 Edmundo Jomocan said four bullet shells for an M16 rifle and eight for a 9mm pistol were recovered at the scene.
Del Castillo is the third lawyer targeted by unidentified assailants in Negros in the past four months.
Last Aug. 23, Rafael Atutubo was gunned down in Bacolod City. On Nov. 6, human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos was slain in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental.
On Dec. 14, Bacolod Councilor Ricardo Tan and his wife Nita were wounded in a shooting in Barangay Alangilan in this city.
The gun attacks remain unresolved.
N.B.: This is another murderous attack on a lawyer in the Philippines. That makes 47 attacks on lawyers and law workers in 2 1/2 years of the Duterte regime, resulting in 40 deaths, including 2 paralegals and a Clerk of RTC Court.
OPEN LETTER TO CHIEF JUSTICE LUCAS BERSAMIN OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES
24 December 2018
Mr. Chief Justice:
We, the undersigned lawyers and members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), write to you to express our grave concern over the rising number of cases of extrajudicial killings of lawyers throughout the Philippines.
We urge the Supreme Court of the Philippines, through the Honorable Chief Justice, to take immediate action to protect lawyers in the Philippines as they perform their function to protect their clients’ rights and uphold the rule of law.
On December 22, 2018, Rodel Batocabe, a lawyer and a sitting member of the House of Representatives, was killed by still unidentified assassins in the Province of Albay. A day earlier, Erfe del Castillo, a member of IBP Negros Occidental, was ambushed but survived a rain of bullets in Talisay, Negros Occidental.
Congressman Batocabe’s murder brings to at least thirty-six (36) the number of lawyers and judges who had become victims of extrajudicial killings during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Only last month, Atty. Benjamin Ramos, was shot dead by two unidentified men at the public plaza of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. Atty. Ramos was the Secretary General of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL)-Negros. There is reason to believe that his death was related to his work assisting the families of the victims of the Sagay 9 Massacre. Prior to his death, Atty. Ramos reportedly received death threats intended to make him stop assisting the families of the Sagay 9 victims.
The facts surrounding many of the killings of these lawyers and judges raise a reasonable belief that their deaths were also connected to their professional work (see list below).
The increasing number of these killings occurring with impunity is alarming. We can no longer stand idly by and allow this to continue.
In addition to the killings, some lawyers, especially those who are into human rights defense and advocacy, have experienced surveillance, harassment, threats, and red-tagging (see partial list below).
Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, we have a duty to society, the legal profession, the courts, and our clients. This includes the duty to serve our clients with competence and diligence and to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. We will not be able to perform these duties and responsibilities properly if we are in constant fear for our lives.
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers stresses that for legal assistance to be effective, it must be carried out independently. For this to be possible, the State must protect lawyers from any unlawful interference with their work and against all forms of harassment and threats from both State and non-State actors. Lawyers must be able to perform their duties in every case, regardless of who they represent, without being harassed, threatened, or killed.
The UN Basic Principles provides that “where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”
We therefore call on the Supreme Court to:
• Take appropriate steps to ensure a thorough, prompt, impartial, and independent investigation into all the killings of lawyers from 30 June 2016; and
• Convene a dialogue between the Supreme Court, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, State security forces, particularly the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, other relevant government agencies, civil society organizations, and other lawyer organizations, where all parties could engage in open and constructive discussion on ensuring the safety and security of lawyers.
(Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines)
1. Abdiel Dan Elijah S. Fajardo
2. Marienne M. Ibadlit
3. Evalyn G. Ursua
4. Emerlynne A. Gil
5. Joanne R. Ala
6. Roel Pulido
7. Rene A.V. Saguisag
8. Mary Jane N. Real
9. Pacifico A. Agabin
10. Erwin Tiamson
11. Erich Justine Alano
12. Nolaida Aguirre
13. Claudie Mendoza
14. Francis Doble
15. Edre U. Olalia
16. Anna Maria D. Abad
17. Ephraim B. Cortez
18. Edwin S. Dela Cruz
19. Carlos A. Montemayor
20. Maria Kristina C. Conti
21. Maricar V. Hiballes
22. Arnel L. Lapore
23. Edmundo F. Manlapao, Jr.
24. Josephine Maria E. Natalaray
25. Gerry E. Llena
26. Marygold L. Chuatico
27. Michael T. Sunio
28. Gorgonio J. Ybanez
29. Narciso F. Javelosa
30. Pauline T. Nuega
31. Audrey Violet A. Lacson
32. Nino Jandy P. Calitis
33. Rene Estocapio
34. Janne Baterna
35. Mario Niel San Felix
36. Angelo Karlo Guillen
37. Elias Guiloreza
38. Teopisto Melliza
39. Criselda A. Heredia
40. Geobelyn L. Beraye
41. Sulpicio Gamosa, Jr.
42. Nilo L. Ruperto
43. Cyrus C. Riconalla
44. Nerio NB Bulado
45. Whelma F. Siton- Yap
46. Gloria Futalan
47. Pristine Ramona M. Raymond
48. Niña Rica Ruperto-Teves
49. Deogracias Eltanal, Jr.
50. Francisco Yap
51. Francis Sol Yap
52. Francis George Yap
53. Ronel C. Depalubos
54. Karissa Faye Tolentino
55. Gilbert Augustin J. Ganir
56. Rommel L. Erames
57. Arvin L. Sienes
58. Rey C. Himpayan
59. Belen Aldecoa Padayhag
60. Nehemias M. Vidal
61. Jose Ramon M. Nacao
62. Grace Ayson
63. Maria Ilsea Salvador
64. Tina Balajadia
65. Karen Pimentel Simbulan
66. Irwin Pena
67. Fred Pamaos
68. Ray Paolo Santiago
69. Haide Acuna
70. Abigail Serrano-Burgos
71. Abraham Acosta
72. Gregorio Tanaka Viterbo Jr.
73. Vincent Yambao
74. Mary Kathryn Sison
75. Dennis Sabado
76. Minerva Ambrosio
77. Susan Villanueva
78. Maria Judessa Botor-Jaranilla
LIST OF LAWYERS/PROSECUTORS/JUDGES KILLED
Name of Lawyer/Prosecutor/Judge
Date of Death
1. Lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr.
August 23, 2016
Killed by unidentified gunmen in Tacloban City, Leyte. He was the lawyer of then-mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte and the mayor’s son Kerwin Espinosa, who were accused of being drug personalities.
2. Lawyer Allen Evasan
August 23, 2016
He was shot dead outside his office in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.
3. Lawyer Melver Tolentino
September 15, 2016
He was killed by unidentified men onboard a motorcycle at a gasoline station in Magsingcal, Ilocos Sur.
4. Lawyer Honorato Mazo
October 7, 2016
He was the Public Attorney’s Office senior provincial lawyer. He was killed in his backyard in Matalam, North Cotobato.
5. Prosecutor Rolando Acido
October 26, 2016
He was gunned down by two men onboard a motorcycle while he was on his way to the Mati City Hall of Justice in Davao Oriental.
6. Lawyer Jemar Apada
December 1, 2016
He was killed by a police officer in Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya. The suspect, Police Officer 1 Clifford Dulnuan, shot Apada at the boarding house of the victim’s wife who was also a cop.
7. Lawyer Arlan Castañeda
December 20, 2016
He was killed while attending Simbang Gabi (Christmas dawn mass) in San Pablo, Isabela. He was a former town councilor who served for 9 years.
8. Lawyer Goering Paderanga Sr.
December 22, 2016
He and his son (lawyer Gerik Paderanga) were shot during an altercation with a security guard. The father was killed on the spot, while Gerik died 3 days later.
9. Lawyer Gerik Paderanga
10. Prosecutor Johanne Noel Mingoa
January 11, 2018
He was killed by unidentified gunmen in Old Balara, Commonwealth Avenue. He was a Quezon City prosecutor at the time.
11. Judge Victor Canoy
February 2, 2017
He was shot on his way to an eatery in Surigao City. He was a retired judge of Surigao City Regional Trial Court, Branch 29.
12. Lawyer Mia Mascariñas Green
February 15, 2017
She was ambushed by 4 unidentified men in Bohol. She was an environmental lawyer. Her murder was linked to a property dispute in Panglao between the assailant, Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga, and his mother-in-law, Conrada Blomqvist, a client of Green.
13. Prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon
May 22, 2017
He was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men outside his house while on his way to work. He was a Caloocan City assistant prosecutor. His death could be linked to the numerous drugs cases being handled in the prosecutor’s office in Caloocan.
14. Lawyer Elmer Mitra Jr.
June 1, 2017
Killed inside a moving vehicle. Jessie Carlos, the gunman behind the Resorts World Manila attack, was the “main person of interest” in the killing of the lawyer.
15. Lawyer Dolores Yumol
June 6, 2017
She was the Bacoor City registrar and was also the former head of the bids and awards committee. She was on her way home with her husband Felipe when they were ambushed by unidentified gunmen in Las Piñas City.
16. Prosecutor Maria Ronatay
July 18, 2017
She was killed when unidentified men opened fire at her car while she was on her way home in Taytay, Rizal. She had been an assistant prosecutor since 2005.
17. Judge Godofredo Abul Jr.
August 5, 2017
He was a Butuan City Judge. He was killed when unidentified men fired at his vehicle. Reports say he was just about to resume work after a six-month suspension due to an extortion allegation involving a drug case filed in his sala. This was an accusation which he vehemently denied.
18. Lawyer Hermie Aban
August 15, 2017
He was the lawyer of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, who is facing murder charges over the 2011 death of environmentalist and broadcast journalist Gerry Ortega. He was killed by a gunman just after leaving his house in Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa. He also represented several suspects in drug-related cases in Palawan and had served as an adviser to the city government’s Task Force Banat, an antidrug body.
19. Prosecutor Pablito Gahol
September 3, 2017
He was a former prosecutor and barangay chairperson. He was shot dead by unidentified men while on his way home from church in Mandaluyong City.
20. Prosecutor Reymund Luna
September 29, 2017
He was an assistant provincial prosecutor in Quezon province. He was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men in Infanta, Quezon.
21. Lawyer Expectacion Baldeo
December 3, 2017
She was a Social Security System employee. She was killed while manning her gasoline station in Tiaong, Quezon. Her husband, former Quezon board member Regore Baldeo, was also killed in 2010.
22. Lawyer Jonah John Ungab
February 19, 2018
He was vice mayor of Ronda, Cebu. He was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire at his vehicle along S. Osmeña Street, Cebu City. He was the lawyer of suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and he was coming from a hearing related to Espinoa’s case before he was shot.
23. Lawyer Henry Joseph Herrera
April 22, 2018
He was killed when the vehicle he was riding with his family was ambushed by unidentified gunmen in Atimonan, Quezon.
24. Lawyer Ramy Tagnong
May 4, 2018
He was superintendent of the Calabarzon police legal affairs office. He was ambushed while onboard his vehicle with his partner in Antipolo City. Prior to his death, he had instituted several dismissal proceedings against erring policemen.
25. Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco
May 11, 2018
He was a Quezon City assistant prosecutor. He was ambushed while onboard his red Toyota Innova at Don Antonio Heights, Quezon City. The NBI filed criminal charges against three police officers who were allegedly involved in the killing.
26. Prosecutor Geronimo Marabe Jr.
May 22, 2018
He was killed by unidentified riding-in-tandem men in Ozamiz City. He served as public prosecutor for several cases involving the Parojinog family.
27. Prosecutor Madonna Joy Ednaco-Tanyag
June 4, 2018
She was assistant special prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman, she was stabbed in front of a lottery outlet along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City on June 4, 2018. Tanya was 5 months pregnant. She was declared dead at the East Avenue Medical Center.
28. Judge Ricky Begino
June 12, 2018
Judge of Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court of San Jose-Lagonoy, Camarines Sur. He was shot while on his way home. A suspect, Wilfredo Armea, was arrested the following day.
29. Lawyer Joey Galit
June 21, 2018
He and his wife were ambushed inside their subdivision. He handled sensitive cases in Rizal Province, Romblon and Palawan.
30. Lawyer Salvador Solima
July 2, 2018
He was killed by unidentified gunmen who barged into his home in Cebu City. He was a former assistant city prosecutor but was dismissed for gross misconduct and grave abuse of authority. Policeman Engelberto Durano was one of his clients. Durano was among those who testified before the House of Representatives justice committee regarding activities of alleged drug lords Jeffrey Diaz and Kerwin Espinosa. Solima also represented Ermita, Cebu City barangay Felicisimo Rupinta, who died in an ambush in November 2017.
31. Lawyer Rafael Atutubo
August 23, 2018
He was gunned down by unidentified men wearing bonnets outside his home in Bacolod City. He reportedly handled drug cases. He advocated against corruption in the judiciary and the police.
32. Lawyer Connie Villamor
September 24, 2018
She was killed by unidentified gunmen while onboard her vehicle in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
33. Lawyer Edel Julio Romero
September 28, 2018
He was gunned down in Barangay Culasi in Roxas City, Capiz. He was the lawyer of Melvin Odicta, the alleged to Iloilo drug lord who was slain in August 2016.
34. Judge Edmundo Pintac
October 8, 2018
He was shot dead by motorcycle-riding suspects in Barangay Banadero in Ozamiz City. He was executive judge of the city’s Regional Trial Court, Branch 15. He handled the drug and firearms cases against Nova Princess and Reynaldo Parojinog Jr.
35. Lawyer Benjamin Ramos
November 6, 2018
He was Secretary-General of the Negros Occidental arm of the National Union of People’s Lawyers. He was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants in Kabankalan City. A known human rights defender, Ramos represented political prisoners, farmers and other members of marginalized sectors in his career as a pro-bono lawyer.
36. Congressman Rodel Batocabe
December 22, 2018
He was a party-list Congressman representing the Ako Bicol Party in the House of Representatives. He was assassinated after a gift-giving activity in Daraga, Albay. He was vice chairman of the House committees on Dangerous Drugs and Public Accountability.
PARTIAL LIST OF LAWYERS UNDER SERIOUS THREAT
1. Lawyer Katherine Panguban
Panguban is the head of the National Union of People’s Lawyers Women and Children Committee. After she assisted a 14-year-old minor who was a witness in the Sagay 9 massacre, the Western Visayas Police Regional Office charged Panguban with kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the minor. The Sagay 9 massacre involved the killing of 9 members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Sagay, Negros Occidental on October 20, 2018.
2. Lawyer Ronnie U. Delicana
Delicana was connected with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency where he served for many years in various capacities until he returned to private practice. In 2018, he saw a soft copy of what was supposedly the drug list of the President where his name was included as a high value target. He was advised to leave Iloilo to avoid serious physical injury and possibly death. In August 2018, police elements visited his residence purportedly to inform him about his allegedly expired firearm licenses.
The information above is based on reports from:
• National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL);
• Rappler, “LIST: Judges, prosecutors, lawyers killed under Duterte gov’t”, November 8, 2018, https://www.rappler.com/…/216239-list-judges-prosecutors-la…
• Other news sources
(Integrated Bar of the Philippines National Facebook, 24/12/18)