Dispatch from Crame No. 979: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Shooting of another Lawyer

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News reports have once again been besieged by a ruthless killing of another lawyer – and most horrifyingly, just six weeks after another lawyer was shot to death in the same city, and just a week ago, a Palawan lawyer.

His was reportedly the 53rd assassination in the list of judges, lawyers and prosecutors who were killed under the Duterte administration. Guns-for-hire or killings by a tandem have thrived, now a cottage industry, under this murderous regime.

The death of Atty. Joey Luis Wee is another horrendous reality check on the state of the rule of law in our country. He was shot twice by a couple of assailants at the stairs of the building of his law office in Cebu City yesterday, Nov. 23. Slain in broad daylight; and an even more blatant affront to the law – he was killed in his turf where he should have felt most safe, where he studies the cases of his clients so he can fight for them.

What does this say about the safety of our people? When lawyers and judges are killed in their very offices and their own chambers – the sentinels of the rule of law to whom those whose rights and freedoms are transgressed run to, how do we assure the public that they are safe?

Ito na nga ang estado ng kaligtasan sa ating bansa ngayon – tila isang madilim na kabanata na walang wakas. Hindi mo masisisi ang mga tao kung nababalot na sila ng pangamba.

At hindi pa riyan nagtatapos ang lagim. The killings like a virus, have hit even clergymen who only preach on pulpits about upholding rights and justice, even a doctor who dared expose corruption in the country’s center for mental health, even farmers who are only fighting for the land they till.

This is why we appeal to those tasked with the enforcement of the law to set their priorities straight. Enough with your obsession with red-tagging individuals who are only exercising their right to speak in a democracy. Stop spending public money on your vile attacks against human rights defenders, actresses and beauty queens who only dared to speak up.

Ang kailangan ng bayan mula sa inyo ay proteksyon – hindi red-tagging.

If only you exert as much effort as you did at the wake and burial of Baby River – then maybe these lawless killings would be slowed down. Perhaps if you could expend as much enthusiasm in going after the sinister forces behind the pervasive killings as you did in throwing mañanitas, then the people will not find themselves feeling abandoned to fend for themselves.

Gampanan nawa ng mga kinauukulan ang kanilang mandato na bigyang proteksyon ang taumbayan. Isantabi na muna ang kulay at partido, at unahin naman ang kapakanan ng bayan.

We not only condemn the killings; we demand accountability. Swift justice and accountability. Kailangang managot ang mga may sala, at kailangang wakasan na ang walang habas na pagpaslang sa mga inosente. ###

(Access the handwritten version, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatchno979)

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