De Lima joins int’l call to end lawyers’ killings in PH

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined the call from lawyers groups and members of legal profession worldwide in urging the Duterte administration to end the increasing attacks and killings against Filipino lawyers.

De Lima, a lawyer by profession, reiterated her call after 76 international lawyers’ groups and 76 lawyers from 49 countries released a joint statement calling on the Duterte administration to take necessary steps to end the attacks against lawyers in the country.

“Attacks against lawyers who wanted nothing but to protect their clients and faithfully fulfill their mandate continue to be a trend under this administration, and in fact, even worsen, yet Mr. Duterte and his allies remain unperturbed,” she said.

“The attacks against the very people mandated to ensure that justice is done requires due and prompt attention by this administration. The government should not allow the attacks against lawyers to continue to be a common practice,” she added.

Lawyers from countries, such as Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Netherlands, Russia, North America and South America, were among the signatories of the statement.

In their statement, they lamented that “the number and intensity of attacks against lawyers have increased significantly” since Dutertre assumed presidency in 2016, citing that at least 41 lawyers and prosecutors were killed between July 2016 and last Sept. 5.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, urged the Duterte administration to take serious heed on the four-point recommendation of the international lawyers highlighted in their statement.

“The government is duty-bound to protect its people, especially those whose lives are in great danger because their profession requires them to defend others, especially the vulnerable. Now is not the time to play deaf ears to the plight of our country’s lawyers,” she said.

The recommendations of the signatories include, among others, the call for the Philippine government to investigate promptly, effectively, thoroughly and independently all extrajudicial killings and attacks against lawyers and take all reasonable measures to guarantee the safety and physical integrity of lawyers.

The signatories also urged the Philippine government to consistently condemn all forms of threats and attacks against lawyers publicly and fully comply with and create awareness about the core values underlying the legal profession.

This 18th Congress, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 33, urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the continued assault against members of the legal profession, including lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

“I have repeatedly urged the government to promptly investigate the rising unsolved cases of killings and attempted killings against members of the legal profession but I have yet to see actions in relation to it,” she lamented.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, has also introduced a measure, logged as Senate Bill No. 780, seeking to increase the penalty against crimes committed against lawyers by considering these offenses as aggravating circumstance.

In the 17th Congress, De Lima filed a similar resolution seeking to inquire into the spate of killings and attacks against members of the legal profession but it was unacted upon by the Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and on Justice and Human Rights.

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