Impunity in the Philippines

Palawan lawyer shot dead on his way to hearing

Lian Buan
Palawan lawyer shot dead on his way to hearing

PALAWAN LAWYER. Lawyer Eric Jay Magcamit is shot dead on his way to court on November 17, 2020

TMG Law Palawan

(UPDATED) 35-year-old Eric Jay Magcamit is the 52nd lawyer killed in the country since 2016

Young lawyer Eric Jay Magcamit was shot dead in broad daylight on his way to a hearing in Quezon, Palawan, on Tuesday, November 17.

The 35-year-old Magcamit was traveling from Puerto Princesa to Quezon town when two unidentified men flagged his vehicle and shot the lawyer when he stepped out, according to a spot report of Police Major Romerico Remo, chief of the Narra Municipal Police Station.

“Victim sustained two gunshot wounds in his right cheek and one gunshot wound in his left leg that resulted in his instantaneous death. Suspect fled away going to South direction after the incident,” the report said.

In an update sent to media, the Mimaropa police said Magcamit “informed his spouse that he was being followed on several occasions by a vehicle.”

“This angle is being pursued by our investigators. The strongest motive yet [that this] is work-related,” said the Mimaropa police.

The police said there are dash cam footage of the two male suspects, and that they are retrieving CCTV footage along the route.

52nd lawyer killed since July 2016

Magcamit is the 52nd lawyer to killed under the Duterte administration, or since July 2016.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Palawan chapter said Magcamit’s “dedication and commitment to uphold the ends of justice has illumined until his last breath.”

According to a law firm profile, Magcamit passed the Bar Exams in 2010. He graduated from the Palawan State University School of Law in 2009, with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science.

According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) disclosure in March this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Administrative Order (AO) 35 task force, which is looking at the pattern of extrajudicial killings, only handled two cases of lawyer killings at the time – human rights lawyers Ben Ramos and Anthony Trinidad, both killed by riding-tandem-gunmen in Negros Island in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Since the FOI disclosure in March, 5 more lawyers were killed including Manila Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla and days later, Magcamit.

“We’ll let the local police do the initial investigation and gather some facts. I will direct the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to stand by to render assistance, if necessary,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

In their bid for a closer international scrutiny of human rights abuses under the Duterte administration, local human rights groups have highlighted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) the rising number of lawyer killings as a sign of a declining rule of law in the country.

But in October, the UNHRC credited government efforts, mostly projects of the DOJ, in what was slammed as a weak resolution that shielded, at least for now, the Duterte government from international probe. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.