Gov't risks losing public's faith in justice system if attacks on lawyers unresolved: IBP

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2021 09:48 AM | Updated as of Mar 25 2021 09:59 AM

MANILA - Government must address attacks on members of the legal profession or it risks losing the public's faith in the country's justice system, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said Thursday.

Some 61 lawyers, prosecutors, and judges have been killed since 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, according to a Free Legal Assistance Group study.

The first step must be to "do justice bilis" (immediate justice), said IBP President Domingo Cayosa.

"No amount of condemnation, public statements and resolutions will change the mindset of a criminal if they know they can get away with it," he told ANC's Headstart.

"If it’s not decisively addressed, the biggest setback dito is the country loses faith in our justice system. If the administrators of justice... are killed and attacked with impunity, sino ang maniniwala sa batas, sa gobyerno, sa hustisya?" 

(If it’s not decisively addressed, the biggest setback here is the country loses faith in our justice system. If the administrators of justice... are killed and attacked with impunity, who will believe in the law, in government, in justice?)

Watch more on iWantTFC

The Supreme Court earlier condemned threats against and killings of lawyers and judges in the country and said it was taking steps to address these.

Among these include working on rules on law enforcers' use of body cameras for the service of search and arrest warrants, the high court said.

The Philippine National Police is open to using body cameras in serving search warrants, Cayosa said, adding that he has spoken with Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on the matter.

"They have no objection to that, perhaps not for all operations, only for search warrants," he said. "It’s a small step but it’s in the right direction."

Red-baiting attacks against judges and lawyers must also be addressed with "immediate rigorous persistent pushback," Cayosa said. 

He cited as an example the red-tagging of Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, whose photo was seen on 2 tarpaulins along with communist rebel logos.

"The IBP Pasig chapter coordinated with local authorities and had it taken down immediately. Salita (speaking out) is okay but action is more important," Cayosa said.