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IBP: Number of lawyers killed under Duterte govt rose 500%

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) yesterday said the number of lawyers being killed has increased by 500 percent under the Duterte administration.

The IBP made the claim as it condemned the killing of Deputy City Prosecutor Victor Begtang Jr. by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Conner, Apayao province.

Begtang is the ninth prosecutor to be killed during the Duterte administration.

Also last July 14, 2021, lawyer Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie in Davao City and her husband Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie were gunned down outside their residence in Phase 2, Solariega Subdivision in Barangay Talomo, Davao City around 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 14.

“The IBP grieves and is appalled by the increasing and sheer number of assassinations of lawyers, judges and prosecutors with impunity,” the group said in a statement.

It noted that the death toll of lawyers killed during the administration has now reached 63 compared to the previous administrations. The IBP said at least 10 lawyers were killed for each under previous administrations were recorded from 1972.

No lawyer was killed under the Ramos administration.

“Indeed, the numbers, as these now stand under the present administration, have alarmingly increased by as much as 500 percent,” the IBP said.

“ As such, the IBP will continue to work with the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to address and arrest these rising attacks against its members just as it calls upon our police and investigative agencies to formulate and implement specific measures to improve the security of lawyers, judges and prosecutors and to expeditiously resolve its investigations on these killings so that the perpetrators are swiftly and truly held accountable,” it added.

Earlier, the Supreme Court recognized the alarming number of lawyers and judges being killed, harassed and threatened.

In light of this, the Court announced several measures in response to the calls made by lawyer groups, which include a deliberation on the possibility of including a provision on its Rules of Procedure that would regulate the conduct of buy-bust operations in the enforcement of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

It has directed all lower courts, as well as the various law enforcement offices, to furnish it with relevant information to shed light on the number and context of each and every threat or killing of a lawyer or judge within the past decade.

The SC said it would also refer the letters that they received from various groups with specific incidents to the relevant trial courts, that would order the parties to convert their letters to proper remedies such as writs of amparo and habeas corpus.

The Court added that it would coordinate through existing mechanisms with all concerned groups, whether belonging to civil society or law enforcement.

The Court en banc has recently approved the rules on the use of body cameras for the service of search arid arrest warrants to prevent speculations of extrajudicial killings.

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