DOJ to finish by next month case inventory of slain lawyers

Published January 28, 2021, 1:37 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) hopes to finish by next month its inventory of cases concerning the killing of lawyers.


DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra gave the assurance as the Senate started its hearings concerning the spate of killings in the country.

Guevarra said the inventory of the cases on lawyer killings is “ongoing.”
“Maybe another two weeks [it will be finished],” he said.
Guevarra previously said “the DOJ will come up with an inventory of cases under investigation by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), under preliminary investigation by the prosecution service, and undergoing trial in court, for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely.”

The DOJ made the move following its dialogues this month with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) over concerns on the unabated killings of lawyers including prosecutors and magistrates.

The secretary had also said “other issues, such as providing greater protection to law practitioners, prosecutors, and judges, will be tackled in subsequent joint activities with the IBP.”

There are reportedly 54 lawyers who have been killed since 2016.

Due to the unabated killings of lawyers, the IBP has been prodding the government to take action.

The IBP had already written to government officials who are lawyers, including Duterte and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, to address the continued killings of lawyers.

“When lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and workers in the justice sector are murdered with impunity and alarming regularity, no one feels safe, our people lose trust and faith in our government justice system, and the unscrupulous are emboldened to take the law in their criminal hands.

Lawyers who are trained and sworn to be courageous sentinels of the rule of law may understandably waver and worry about their own security and safety thereby allowing more space for violence and fear to rule instead.

As we recognize our responsibilities and our shortcomings, let us restore and maintain the rule of law,” read the letters sent by the IBP.

“It is in this broader perspective that we seek your attention, guidance, and action on the 54 documented lawyers killed so far since July 1, 2016, as well as the many more unsolved killings in earlier years and administrations. We appeal to our brother-lawyers in all branches of government who occupy positions of great authority and power to take concerted actions to decisively address attacks on lawyers. We seek this not only on behalf of the slain lawyers, their families, and the legal profession, but more importantly, for our country that has long suffered from creeping criminality and delayed or denied justice,” the IBP stated.

The IBP told government officials that it “recognizes and appreciates the commitment and efforts to improve the criminal justice system” but it lamented that “lawyers, the sentinels of the rule of law, continue to be ironically caught in the spiraling violence and flawed or slow justice.”