The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) claimed there has been 176 work-related attacks against lawyers from January 2011 up to April 22, 2021.
Last April 23, NUPL submitted to Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo its “running documentation” on attacks against lawyers, prosecutors and judges.
It said that during the 11-year period of its documentation, the most number of incidents involving attacks against lawyers happened in 2019.
“The highest number of incidents was documented in 2019, with the least 39 prima facie profession or work-related attacks. A steady increase in the number of such attacks has been observed since 2016,” the NUPL said.
In pointed out that in 2016, there were eight recorded attacks; in 2017, 18; in 2018, 33; in 2019, 39; in 2020, 31; and during the first four months of 2021, 18 attacks.
The NUPL conducted on Monday afternoon, April 26, a webinar on its “running documentation.”
Human rights lawyer Evalyn G. Ursua said: “The SC must take seriously what is happening. It cannot be relaxed about this.”
Last March 23, the SC condemned “in the strongest sense every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed, and where a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled.”
It was the SC’s reaction to letters and manifestations of various sectors, particularly lawyers’ groups, on threats and killings of lawyers, including prosecutors and judges.
Some of the manifestations were filed by lawyers who are counsels in 37 petitions that challenged the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 filed before the SC.
In a statement read by SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka, the SC said:
“We do not and will not tolerate such acts that only perverse justice, defeat the rule of law, undermine the most basic of constitutional principles, and speculate on the worth of human lives.
“To threaten our judges and our lawyers is no less than an assault on the Judiciary. To assault the Judiciary is to shake the very bedrock on which the rule of law stands.
“This cannot be allowed in a civilized society like ours. This cannot go undenounced on the Court’s watch.
“We are aware that there are wayward elements who, in their zeal to do what they think is necessary, would simply brush aside the limitations in our law as mere obstacles.
“This should never be countenanced, for it is only in the enjoyment of our inalienable and indivisible rights that our freedoms become meaningful.”
The SC then directed all trial courts and law enforcement agencies to furnish it data on every threat and killing of a lawyer or judge within the past 10 years.
It also said it will deliberate further and promulgate rules on the use of body cameras by law enforcement operatives in the service of search and arrest warrants.
“This is without prejudice to the Court’s deliberations on whether we can cover with our rules of procedure the conduct of buy-bust operations in the enforcement of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act,” it said.