MANILA - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Tuesday urged the government to act on 54 killings of lawyers since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
The IBP made the appeal in a letter to Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo after the Department of Justice confirmed the death of missing former Court of Appeals justice Normandie Pizarro.
"We appeal to our brother-lawyers in all branches of government who occupy positions of great authority and power to take concerted action to decisively address attacks on lawyers," it said.
Both Duterte and Robredo are lawyers.
"We seek this not only on behalf of the slain lawyers, their families, and the legal profession but more importantly, for our country that has long suffered from creeping criminality and delayed or denied justice," the IBP said.
The IBP said it has launched a Lawyer Justice and Security Program, which consists of formal agreements with law enforcers, lawyer security training and assistance, legal assistance, and a P25 million fund for crucial information and witnesses necessary to hold lawyer-killers accountable, among others.
It said the program has produced positive results in the timely resolution of recent lawyer killings such as the slay of Eric Magcamit in Palawan and Joey Luis Wee in Cebu City.
"When lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and workers in the justice sector are murdered with impunity and alarming regularity, no one feels safe, our people lose trust and faith in our government and its justice system, and the unscrupulous are emboldened to take the law in their criminal hands," it said.
"We ask the public prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges to do JUSTICE BILIS and to finish the cases fairly and with dispatch. Aside from addressing its root causes, certainty and timeliness of accountability and punishment is a proven antidote to criminality and impunity."