CHR, IBP seek justice for slain Nueva Ecija lawyer

CHR, IBP seek justice for slain Nueva Ecija lawyer

MANILA, Philippines — Calls for justice went out on Sunday in the aftermath of the death of a lawyer in Nueva Ecija, with the grisly killing being dubbed an affront to the legal profession and an attack on the justice system.

On Friday, lawyer Bayani Dalangin was shot by an unknown gunman inside his own office in Talavera town. He was 73 years old.

The lawyer was reportedly attending to clients when a hooded man entered the office and shot him in cold blood.

The gunman then fled in a waiting motorcycle.

Dalangin was declared dead on arrival at the Talavera General Hospital. 

The Nueva Ecija chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-NE) issued a statement Saturday condemning “in the strongest terms the brutal and senseless killing" of Dalangin. 

They described Dalangin as "a good, brilliant and respected Ecijano lawyer.”

In a statement on Sunday, Commission on Human Rights spokesperson lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia also said that the shooting was another example of the worsening impunity in the country. 

"The increasing number of violent attacks against and extrajudicial killings of lawyers in the Philippines demand serious attention and concern from the government and the people," De Guia said. 

"These grave threats and attacks impair the ability of lawyers and other members of the justice sector to provide effective legal representation and hamper them to freely exercise their profession."

Police reports said they were looking into an old rift between the victim and other lawyers as a possible motive behind the murder.

Both the CHR and the IBP-NE called on the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct a swift investigation into the killing. 

"If these kinds of brazen evil acts are not curtailed and prevented, and oftentimes result in violent killings of a comrade in the legal profession or even ordinary citizens, members of the bar are demoralized," the IBP-NE said for their part. 

"We will not be dissuaded."

The Philippines is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which commits all its members to guarantee and respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. 

In its statement, the CHR reminded the administration of these treaty obligations.

CHR also called for the immediate passage of legislation to increase the severity of penalties imposed on those found guilty of crimes against lawyers. 

"Lawyers working on sensitive and high-profile cases face reprisals and are constantly wary of their safety and independence [as] the worsening impunity in the country continues to undermine the proper functioning of the rule of law including the right of people to remedies and fair trial," De Guia said. — with report from The STAR/Raymund Catindig