PH Bar Association on lawyers' killings: 'End this madness'
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Bar Association called on the government to address the "very worrisome" spate of killings of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors in the Philippines.
In a statement read by its president Jose Agcaoili, the country's oldest voluntary lawyer organization called the killings a "vicious and mortal assault on the very institution, the system that promises justice for all regardless of race, sex, religion, political persuasion, or status in life."
"Never has the clarion call been sounded by lawyers and judges with such urgency," he said on Rappler Talk with editor-at-large Marites Vitug.
"We respectfully implore all branches of government to come up with real, urgent, and effective interventions to address this concern and put an end to this madness," Agcaoili added.
Members of the judiciary have not been spared from the "culture of impunity" seen in the country under President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign.
The latest killed is Benjamin Ramos, the secretary-general of the Negros Occidental arm of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, who was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants on November 6 in Kabankalan City.
Ramos was a known human rights defender who represented political prisoners, farmers, and other members of marginalized sectors in his career as a pro-bono lawyer.
He is just one of the 35 people from the legal profession killed from July 2016 to November 8 this year. (READ: LIST: Judges, prosecutors, lawyers killed under Duterte gov't)
"It's unfortunate, but yes, this is widespread and prevalent. It has become a very sad plight of our criminal justice system," Agcaoili said.
"We need to put a stop to the killings of judges and lawyers now because it is really, well, the alternative is anarchy, and this is not an option." – Rappler.com