The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has pressed the government for the immediate resolution of cases involving attacks against lawyers, particularly those injured or killed for their human rights advocacies.
In particular, the CHR prodded the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 1721 that would increase the penalty for crimes committed against members of the legal profession and the justice sector.
The “chilling effects” to the legal community of assaults against lawyers was pinpointed anew by the CHR in the case of Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen who was attacked in the evening of March 3 allegedly by two masked men in Iloilo City. He survived the attack.
Guillen is the counsel in one of the petitions filed with the Supreme Court against the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act. He is known in the legal circles as lawyer of activists, human rights advocates, and indigenous peoples.
Not only several sectors but the Office of the President, it self, has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to track down, arrest, and file charges against Guillen’s attackers.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the attack against Guillen “speaks of the pervasiveness of criminality due to worsening impunity” in the country.
De Guia lamented that the violent attacks against many lawyers remain unresolved and human rights lawyers continue to fear reprisals for defending vulnerable sectors of society.
“With their security and safety compromised, the ability of these lawyers to perform their duty is negatively impacted,” she said.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has recorded at least 54 killlings of lawyers and judges since 2016.
Last year, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NUPL, and various legal groups raised concerns over the increasing and alarming incidents of attacks on lawyers before the Supreme Court.
In the case of Guillen, the CHR has urged the Iloilo City police and other concerned agencies to conduct an expedient investigation on the case.
De Guia said the CHR’s office in Region VI has started conducting an independent probe.