IBP: Duterte's criticism of lawyers defending drug suspects 'dangerous'
MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Friday, December 9, President Rodrigo Duterte's criticism of lawyers who defend drug suspects was "dangerous" due to the chilling effect it creates among those handling drug-related cases.
In an Inquirer report early Friday morning, Duterte, speaking about his anticorruption campaign on Wednesday night, called out lawyers who handled drug-related cases. Duterte said it was difficult to convict drug suspects because they were able to hire good lawyers.
Duterte added, “That’s their style. They were able to post bail because they have lawyers. They are good, high-profile lawyers. Then [the lawyers' clients] will play again."
The President said people should understand "the role of law" instead of focusing on the "rule of law."
In a statement, however, the IBP said every accused, "no matter what crime he may be charged with," has the right to competent legal counsel.
This right, they added, is "not only enshrined in the Constitution but is premised upon the fundamental principles of justice and fairness, particularly in a situation where the accused is faced with the awesome resources of the State. The Bill of Rights exists precisely to address this undeniable inequality."
The President's statements, the IBP said, were dangerous because they implicitly inhibited or discouraged the exercise of one's rights due to a threat of legal sanction or other danger.
The IBP added, "Lawyers must be free to decide to accept and undertake the defense in any kind of criminal case without any fear that doing so will place them in any kind of danger. Competent legal representation is not only the right of every accused but, more importantly, the sworn duty of each and every member of the bar to provide."
The IBP continued by saying that while it did not condone unethical conduct among its members who serve as legal counsel, "every lawyer is not only entitled, but even duty-bound, to utilize every right or remedy available under the law and the Rules of Court to zealously protect the interest of his client." – Rappler.com