MANILA - Members of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) on Thursday cried foul over the stabbing attack of an officer in their chapter in Iloilo, and denied that the incident was due to robbery.
During an online indignation rally, NUPL Vice President for Visayas lawyer Rene Estocapio said NUPL Panay secretary-general Angelo Karlo Guillen is already in stable condition after he was stabbed by a screwdriver in the face and neck by 2 masked men who remain at large.
Contrary to a police report that claimed the attack was due to robbery, Estocapio said it appeared to be related to Guillen's work with indigenous group Tumandok, following the establishment of the Iloilo Council for Ecumenism Lawyers' Group on Saturday. The lawyer has supposedly been subjected to surveillance, a reason why he had to transfer residences.
Lawyer Rey Cortez, a member of NUPL, said the group intended to file a reiterative motion before the Supreme Court regarding the attack.
"We will not take this sitting down...Hindi natin hahayaan na ito ay magpapatuloy. Hindi ito ang dahilan para magpapaatras sa atin sa ating adbokasiya,” said Cortez.
(We will not let this continue. This is not a reason to back down on our advocacies.)
NUPL member Kristina Conti, on the other hand, described Guillen’s crucial role in Panay after helping in different legal cases. She said that he was also the co-counsel in Bayan Muna’s petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The official also drafted former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares' opening statement in the High Court’s oral arguments on the controversial law, according to Conti.
‘BRAZEN ASSASINATION ATTEMPT’
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he was “very much alarmed” by the incident, and called on the Philippine National Police to resolve it as soon as possible.
“Lawyers only do their function to protect their clients. As a lawyer myself this is doubly important for me to be solved,” Treñas said in a Facebook post.
In a statement, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) condemned the attack on Guillen, calling it a “brazen and bloody assassination attempt.”
The IBP in Iloilo previously helped the lawyer post bail when he was arrested last year for participating in a protest.
"Inflicting violence on those who seek justice is criminality in the highest degree... We highlight the primary role of government to secure its citizens," the statement read.
The group also described the circumstance as part of the "pandemic of criminality."
In December last year, the IBP urged the government to act on 54 killings of lawyers since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
The development came after the Department of Justice confirmed the death of missing former Court of Appeals justice Normandie Pizarro.
- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News