By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday refuted the claims made by a delegation of foreign lawyers that the Duterte administration of President Rodrigo Duterte should be made responsible for the continued killings of lawyers and judges in the country.
“With all due respect, I find their conclusion that lawyers’ deaths are state-sanctioned preposterous, unless they can back it up with some credible evidence,” he stated.
Recently, a delegation of foreign lawyers declared that there has been a sharp increase in the killings and attacks against lawyers under the Duterte administration.
The delegation attributed this, among others, to Duterte’s public pronouncements calling for the targeting of lawyers who are found obstructing his anti-drug war.
“There are so many reasons why lawyers get killed – work-related, personal, business, political, etc. and pinning the blame on government may be pushing it too far,” Guevarra explained.
As lawyers, the Secretary stressed they “should be the first to show proof of facts before making reckless public statements,” Gueverra pointed out.
With this, Guevarra dared the foreign delegation to release evidence which would support their claims.
“It is my opinion that this is a very sweeping statement and should be backed up by competent proof before being made public,” he said.
Meanwhile, Guevarra continue to commiserate with the families of slain lawyers who also include government prosecutors.
“The DOJ will always do its part in protecting members of the legal profession, who comprise the very heart and soul of our department,” he assured.
The delegation, which was invited by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), arrived in the Philippines last week to look into the killings of lawyers, prosecutors and judges in the country.
The delegation, which is comprised of nationals from Belgium, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and the United States, includes members of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Union of International Advocates and Day of Endangered Lawyers Foundation.