By Jeffrey Damicog
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to take action against the continued killing of lawyers.
The IBP made the call following the murder of Ako Bicol Party-List Rep. and lawyer Rodel Batocabe who was gunned down last Sunday in Daraga, Albay.
In a statement, IBP President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo urged “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.”
Among the moves the SC was called on the take, Fajardo sought for “appropriate steps to ensure a thorough, prompt, impartial, and independent investigation into all the killings of lawyers from 30 June 2016.”
Aside from Batocabe, the IBP said there have been 35 lawyers who have been killed since June 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
Fajardo also asked that the SC to convene a dialogue with “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.”
Batocabe was a member of the committees on dangerous drugs, health, energy, tourism, and good government at the House of Representatives.
He filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of his hometown, Daraga, in next year’s elections.
Reports stated that Batocabe and his security escort, Senior Police Officer 1 Orlando Diaz, were shot at close range by unidentified men
when they were about to board their vehicle after a gift-giving event for senior seniors in Barangay Burgos in Daraga town.
They were rushed to a local hospital but were both declared dead on arrival.