Senator De Lima alarmed over rising spate of killings of lawyers

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Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has expressed outrage over the unabated killings of members of the legal profession, noting that the Philippines is fast becoming a very dangerous place for lawyers to practice their profession.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said the murders of two lawyers that took place last month showed how their assassins have become more emboldened, reveling at the gangsterism and mafia culture that have become prevalent nowadays.

“[T]his regime is populated by gangsters who have watched too much mafia movies and copycat the most inhumane and grotesque assassination techniques depicted in such movies,” De Lima said in her recent Dispatch from Crame 721.

“Pumping bullets into a father in front of his daughter’s school just before she is about to get in the same car takes the cake,” she added.

News reports showed that lawyer Bayani Dalangin, whom the Integrated Bar of the Philippines recalled as a “good, brilliant and respected lawyer,” was attacked in his office in Talavera, Nueva Ecija during a meeting with his clients.

Former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Legal Division Chief Fredric Santos was reportedly ready to spill the beans before the Senate about what he knows on the alleged anomalies surrounding the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance policy.

These cases are only two of the growing list of 48 unresolved killings involving judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other members of the legal community since Duterte took power in 2016. Most assailants in these killings have remained unidentified.

“There will be a reckoning. Not today. But all those responsible for lives snuffed out without justice but with impunity will meet their own end,” the former human rights chief said.

“The gangsters now lording it over us should watch the mafia movies to their endings, so they will learn how gangsters like themselves eventually end up, either behind prison or in a pool of their own blood,” she added.

Since 2017, De Lima has called for independent inquiries to these lawyer killings. In the 17th Congress, she filed Senate Bill (SB) 1721 which seeks to increase penalties against perpetrators who commit offenses against workers in the legal and justice sector.

In the 18th Congress, she filed SB 780, seeking to amend Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) to add, as an aggravating circumstance, the crime having been committed against lawyers and justice sector officials.

In 2018, despite being restricted by her prolonged unjust detention, De Lima called out the Duterte administration to resolve not only the harassment and attacks against lawyers but also the surge of killings by masked gunmen.

“[N]othing is sacred to the gangsters who are now in high  posts of government. Not human life, not decency, not even the appearance of civility and moral uprightness,” the lady Senator from Bicol said.

“These people revel in their gangsterism and mafia culture. As they have so propagated in Davao City, so they have now spread this culture throughout the entire nation for us to accept and live with,” she added./Stacy Ang

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