The years under President Rodrigo Duterte have been considered by various groups as one of the most bloody periods in recent history.
Lawyers and other members of the judiciary are not spared from the culture of impunity. They get murdered as they face threats in relation to their work.
As of September 16, 2021, at least 65 judges, prosecutors, and lawyers have been killed since July 2016.
Below is a list of the victims and the circumstances of their murder, based on reports from the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), and other news reports collated by Rappler.
1. Lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr – August 2016
Rogelio Bato Jr was killed by unidentified gunmen in Tacloban City, Leyte, on August 23, 2016. He was the lawyer of then-mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr of Albuera, Leyte, and the mayor's son Kerwin Espinosa, who were accused of being drug personalities.
2. Lawyer Allen Evasan – August 2016
Allen Evasan was shot dead outside his office in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, on August 23, 2016, according to a SunStar report.
3. Lawyer Melver Tolentino – September 2016
Melver Tolentino was killed by unidentified men onboard a motorcycle at a gasoline station on September 15, 2016, in Magsingcal, Ilocos Sur, according to an ABS-CBN report.
4. Prosecutor Rolando Acido – October 2016
Rolando Acido was gunned down by two men onboard a motorcycle on October 26, 2016, while on his way to the Mati City Hall of Justice in Davao Oriental.
5. Lawyer Honorato Mazo – October 2016
Honorato Mazo, a Public Attorney's Office senior provincial lawyer, was killed in his backyard on October 7, 2016, in Matalam, North Cotabato, according to a Philippine Star report.
6. Lawyer Jemar Apada – December 2016
Jemar Apada was killed by a police officer in Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, on December 1, 2016. The suspect, Police Officer 1 Clifford Dulnuan, shot Apada at the boarding house of the victim's wife who was also a cop.
7. Lawyer Arlan Castañeda – December 2016
Arlan Castañeda and his bodyguard were killed while attending Simbang Gabi (Christmas dawn mass) in San Pablo, Isabela, on December 20, 2016. Castañeda was a former town councilor who served for 9 years.
8. Lawyer Goering Paderanga Sr – December 2016
9. Lawyer Gerik Paderanga – December 2016
Father and son Goering Paderanga Sr and Gerik Paderanga were shot during an altercation with a security guard in Cebu City on December 22, 2016, the Freeman reported. The elder Paderanga was killed on the spot, while his son died 3 days later.
10. Prosecutor Johanne Noel Mingoa – January 2017
Quezon City prosecutor Noel Mingoa was killed by unidentified gunmen in Old Balara, Commonwealth Avenue, on January 11, 2018, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
11. Retired judge Victor Canoy – February 2017
Victor Canoy was shot dead while on his way to an eatery on February 2, 2017, in Surigao City, SunStar reported. He was a retired judge of Surigao City Regional Trial Court Branch 29.
12. Lawyer Mia Mascariñas Green – February 2017
13. Prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon – May 2017
Caloocan assistant prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men outside his house while on his way to work on May 22, 2017.
14. Lawyer Elmer Mitra Jr – June 2017
Elmer Mitra Jr was killed inside a moving vehicle on June 1, 2017. Jessie Carlos, the gunman behind the Resorts World Manila attack, was the "main person of interest" in the killing of the lawyer.
15. Lawyer Dolores Yumol – June 2017
Dolores Yumol, a lawyer and Bacoor City registrar, and her husband Felipe were ambushed by unidentified gunmen while on their way home in Las Piñas City on June 6, 2017.
16. Prosecutor Maria Ronatay – July 2017
Assistant prosecutor Maria Ronatay was killed when unidentified men opened fire at her car while she was on her way home on July 18, 2017, in Taytay, Rizal, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
17. Judge Godofredo Abul Jr – August 2017
Butuan City judge Godofredo Abul Jr was killed when unidentified men fired at his vehicle on August 5, 2017, SunStar Cagayan de Oro reported.
18. Lawyer Hermie Aban – August 2017
Hermie Aban was killed by a gunman on August 15, 2017, in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. He was the lawyer of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, who is facing murder charges over the 2011 death of environmentalist and broadcast journalist Gerry Ortega.
19. Former prosecutor Pablito Gahol – September 2017
Former prosecutor and barangay chairperson Pablito Gahol was shot dead while on his way home from church in Mandaluyong City on September 3, 2017. According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, he was shot several times by unidentified men.
20. Prosecutor Reymund Luna – September 2017
Quezon assistant provincial prosecutor Reymund Luna was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men on September 29, 2017, in Infanta.
21. Lawyer Expectacion Baldeo – December 2017
Lawyer Expectacion Baldeo, also a Social Security System employee, was killed on December 3, 2017, while manning her gasoline station in Tiaong, Quezon. Her husband, former Quezon board member Regore Baldeo, was also killed in 2010.
22. Lawyer Jonah John Ungab – February 2018
Jonah John Ungab, also vice mayor of Ronda, Cebu, was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire at his vehicle on February 19, 2018, along S Osmeña Street, Cebu City. He was the lawyer of suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
23. Lawyer Henry Joseph Herrera – April 2018
Henry Joseph Herrera was killed on April 22, 2018, when the vehicle he was riding with his family was ambushed by unidentified gunmen in Atimonan, Quezon.
24. Lawyer Ramy Tagnong – May 2018
Superintendent Ramy Tagnong, chief of the Calabarzon police legal affairs office, was killed on May 4, 2018, after being ambushed while onboard his vehicle with his partner in Antipolo City, according to a SunStar report.
25. Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco – May 2018
Deputy city prosecutor and chief inquest Rogelio Velasco of Quezon City was killed after being ambushed while onboard his red Toyota Innova at Don Antonio Heights on May 11, 2018. The Department of Justice has started a preliminary investigation into the killing where 3 policemen are accused of murder.
26. Retired prosecutor Geronimo Marave Jr – May 2018
27. Prosecutor Madonna Joy Ednaco Tanyag – June 2018
28. Judge Ricky Begino – June 2018
Judge Ricky Begino of the Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court of San Jose-Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, was killed on June 12, 2018, while on his way home. A suspect, Wilfredo Armea, was arrested the following day.
29. Lawyer Joey Galit – June 2018
Joey Galit and his wife were ambushed inside their subdivision on June 21, 2018. He and a security guard who responded to the incident died, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
30. Lawyer Salvador Solima – July 2018
Lawyer Salvador Solima was killed when unidentified gunmen barged into his home in Cebu City on July 2, 2018. He was a former assistant city prosecutor, but was dismissed for gross misconduct and grave abuse of authority.
31. Lawyer Rafael Atutubo – August 2018
Rafael Atutubo was gunned down by unidentified men wearing bonnets outside his home in Bacolod City on August 23, 2018.
32. Lawyer Connie Villamor – September 2018
Connie Villamor was killed by unidentified gunmen while onboard her vehicle in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, on September 24, 2018. The police are looking into a personal grudge as the possible motive behind the killing.
33. Lawyer Edeljulio Romero – September 2018
Edeljulio Romero was gunned down on September 28, 2018, in Barangay Culasi in Roxas City, Capiz. He was the lawyer of Melvin Odicta, the alleged top Iloilo drug lord who was slain in August 2016.
Laoag City's Regional Trial Court Branch 65 cleck of court Randel Villaruz was shot dead on October 1, 2018.
35. Judge Edmundo Pintac – October 2018
Local police told Rappler that the Parojinog siblings are now persons of interest in the killing of Pintac.
36. Lawyer Benjamin Ramos – November 2018
Benjamin Ramos, the secretary-general of the Negros Occidental arm of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants on November 6, 2018, in Kabankalan City.
A known human rights defender, Ramos represented political prisoners, farmers, and other members of marginalized sectors in his career as a pro-bono lawyer.
39. Former prosecutor Mary Ann Castro – January 2019
Former Cebu City assistant prosecutor Mary Ann Castro was ambushed by a motorcycle-riding gunman while on her way to the provincial capitol area from the Cebu Business Park on January 17, 2019. Initial investigation showed that she was shot 5 times.
40. Lawyer Rex Jasper Lopoz – March 2019
Lawyer Rex Jasper Lopoz was gunned down in front of a shopping mall in Tagum City on March 13, 2019. According to investigators, the bullet that took his life was fired by a sniper positioned several meters away.
Lawyer Charmaine Mejia died after being stabbed by an unidentified suspect in Mandaluyong City on March 26, 2019.
42. Judge Reymar Lacaya – May 2019
Judge Reymar Lacaya of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, was shot dead in the town on May 9, 2019. The Supreme Court said he is the 30th judge to be killed while in service since 1999.
43. Lawyer Adilberto Golla Jr – May 2019
Lawyer Adilberto Golla Jr was killed while he was on his way to work on May 17, 2019, in Rodriguez, Rizal. He was the legal counsel of 10 policemen included in the dozens tagged in the Maguindanao massacre.
44. Val Crisostomo – May 2019
Lawyer Val Crisostomo was gunned down by an unidentified man on a motorcycle in front of the Hall of Justice in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, on May 17, 2019.
45. Anthony Trinidad – July 2019
Lawyer Anthony Trinidad was gunned down on July 23, 2019 by riding-in-tandem gunmen in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental. He and his wife, Novie Marie, were on their way home from a court hearing.
47. Lawyer Irineo Cabugoy – September 2019
Lawyer Irineo Cabugoy was shot in the head in front of his family inside a fast-food restaurant by unidentified gunmen on September 5 in Antipolo, Rizal.
48. Former Siargao Municipal Trial Court judge Exequil Dagala – November 2019
Former Siargao MTC judge Exequil Dagala was killed inside his home in Surigao del Norte on November 1, 2019. Authorities said he was sleeping when 3 gunmen entered his room around 11 pm in Del Carmen town in Siargao Island.
49. Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez – November 2019
Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez was killed by unidentified gunmen on November 5 while on board his vehicle in Barangay Mameltac, San Fernando, La Union. In September, Judge Bañez acquitted Cordillera health worker Rachel Mariano of murder, after being accused by the army of masterminding an ambush of members of the 81st Infantry Battallion in 2017.
50. Former congressman and lawyer Edgar Mendoza – January 2020
Former Batangas congressman and lawyer Edgar Mendoza was declared dead on January 9 after his remains were found inside a burnt vehicle in Tiaong, Quezon, together with the bodies of his driver Ruel Ruiz and aide Nicanor Mendoza. Authorities alleged that two inmates at the New Bilibid Prison, who were Mendoza's clients in his law practice, conspired to kill him.
51. Lawyer Raymond Moncada – January 2020
52. Lawyer Anselmo Carlos – January 2020
Lawyer Anselmo Carlos and his driver Marcial Mendoza were gunned down by unidentified men on January 28, 2020, in front of the San Vicente Parish Church in Sta Rita, Pampanga.
53. Bureau of Corrections Legal Division Chief Fredric Santos – February 2020
BuCor's top lawyer Fredric Santos was gunned down by two unidentified men on February 19, 2020, infront of his daughter's school in Muntinlupa City. He was declared dead on the spot after sustaining gunshot wounds in the head.
54. Lawyer Bayani Dalangin – February 2020
Lawyer Bayani Dalangin was shot dead in front of his office in Talavera town in Nueva Ecija on February 28, 2020. According to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, motorcycle-riding gunmen killed Dalangin in front of his clients.
55. Prosecutor Jovencio Senados – July 2020
56. Retired Court of Appeals justice Normandie Pizarro – October 2020
Normandie Pizarro was last seen at a casino in Clark on October 23 and his car was later found in San Simon, Pampanga. His body was found in Capas, Tarlac, on October 30. He was confirmed dead on Monday, December 21 by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Pizarro retired in February 2018, a year ahead of his mandatory retirement. He left with a controversial acquittal of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes in the Gerry Ortega murder case. The acquittal has since been reversed.
Pizarro penned the ruling in May 2017 that acquitted alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles of serious illegal detention charges.
Pizarro also wrote the ruling that nullified a Hawaii court decision which had granted $2 billion worth of damages to Martial Law victims.
57. Judge Ma Theresa Abadilla – November 2020
Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 45 Judge Ma Theresa Abadilla was shot by her clerk of court on November 11, 2020 while inside her own chamber in the Manila City Hall. She was rushed to the Manila Medical Center where doctors declared her "dead on arrival at 3:15 pm."
Cops from the Manila Police District say that the suspect, lawyer Amador Rebato, shot himself. He was found dead on the spot.
58. Lawyer Eric Jay Magcamit – November 2020
Eric Jay Magcamit was shot and killed in broad daylight on his way to a hearing in Quezon, Palawan, on November 17, 2020. A spot report says two unidentified men flagged Magcamit, and shot the 35-year-old lawyer when he stepped out of his vehicle.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Palawan chapter said Magcamit's “senseless death is a great loss to the community he had perseveringly served since his admission to the bar, and most especially to use, his brethren in the legal profession.”
Magcamit obtained his law degree from the Palawan State University in 2009 and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science in 2005.
59. Lawyer Joey Luis Wee – November 2020
Joey Luis Wee was gunned down by two unidentified men while walking up the stairs to his office in Cebu City on November 23, 2020.
A graduate of San Beda College of Law, the 51-year-old lawyer handled cases involving elected and appointed officials.
60. Lawyer Baby Maria Concepcion Landero-Ole – December 2020
Baby Maria Concepcion Landero-Ole was gunned down on December 17, 2020 by unidentified men while driving her pick-up truck along a Danao City highway in Cebu.
61. Lawyer Winston Intong – January 2021
62. Deputy prosecutor Victor Begtang Jr – June 2021
Ilagan City, Isabela deputy prosecutor Victor Begtang Jr was killed by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen on June 23, 2021 in Apayao.
According to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Begtang riding his car and was already near his house when he was shot dead.
Lawyer Gilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie were shot dead outside their home in Davao City on July 14, 2021.
Hernandez was a founding member of the Nationa Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) and served as counsel for rights group Karapatan for many years, according to NUPL president Edre Olalia.
65. Lawyer Juan Macababbad – September 2021
Public interest lawyer Juan Macababbad was shot dead outside his home in Surallah town, South Cotabato, on September 15, 2021.
He was a member of the red-tagged National Union of Peoples' Lawyers and the chairman of the Soccsksargen chapter of the Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.