Chief Justice, lawyer's group condemn Tagum attorney's slay

Hernel Tocmo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2019 07:19 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2019 10:01 PM

DAVAO CITY (UPDATE) - Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Thursday condemned the killing of a lawyer in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Rex Jasper Lopoz, who was handling illegal drugs cases, was gunned down in front of a mall on Wednesday night.

“That’s very tragic because no human life should be wasted in that manner, especially if you are a lawyer, serving the courts of justice,” Bersamin said.

The chief magistrate did not elaborate as he is yet to know details of the crime.

The Tagum City Police is looking at the possibility that the slay is work-related as the victim was said to have handled drug cases.

“I call on the law enforcement agencies of the government to extirpate criminality especially the gun for hire or whoever, that has no place in the society," Bersamin said.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) also condemned the killing.

In a statement, the IBP noted that 38 lawyers, judges, and prosecutors have been killed since August 2016.

"We call on the police and investigative authorities to solve these cases with a real sense of duty and competent dispatch," it said.

"Lawyers, prosecutors, and judges are being targeted with surging frequency and impunity... This series of unsolved crimes against lawyers has germinated a dark halo of fear that has paralyzed the most important pillars of the justice system."

The IBP again urged the Supreme Court to look into the killings of lawyers.

"Murder and other forms of mindless violence have no place in civilized society. Lawyers are professionals who must not be associated with the perceived crimes of their clients," it said.

"We are sworn to advocate our clients’ causes within the bounds of law, free from fear and intimidation, and regardless of our own opinions as to their guilt and innocence."

The group made a similar call in December 2018 after lawyer and AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe was killed in an ambush while attending a gift-giving event.

Lawyers' group urges SC to protect lawyers following Batocabe slay
In November 2018, Benjamin Ramos, Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) in Negros Occidental, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding assailants in Kabankalan town.