House probe sought into yet another killing of rights lawyer

© PhilSTAR Daily, Inc

Xave Gregorio


September 17, 2021 | 2:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the progressive Makabayan bloc are calling on the House of Representatives to condemn and investigate the killing of human rights lawyer Juan Macababbad, the 65th lawyer who was slain during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people, to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations, especially in this time of crisis,” said the six-member group which forms part of the House minority bloc in House Resolution No. 2223 filed Thursday.

They continued, “[Congress] must bring perpetrators to account to put a stop to the killings and rights violations against its people. Laws and rules should serve the interest of our people, and should not be weaponized to suppress their rights and oppress them.”

Macababbad, who according to human rights organization Karapatan had received death threats over his advocacies, was fatally shot Wednesday by two assassins outside of his residence in Surallah, South Cotabato.

He was the vice chairperson of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao and a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and party-list group Bayan Muna. All three civilian organizations have been red-tagged, or accused of being part of the armed communist insurgency.

In the NUPL’s own tally, Macababbad is the 58th lawyer killed with prima facie link to his profession, and their third member slain in the Duterte administration.

His killing came just three weeks after lawyer Rex Fernandez, also a member of the NUPL, was shot dead in his car in Banawa, Cebu City.

Opposition lawmakers, particularly those hailing from the Makabayan bloc, have been consistent in calling on the House to investigate the rampant killings of lawyers, which the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said is “disturbing” and “can no longer be ignored.”

At least four resolutions urging the House to condemn and investigate attacks on lawyers have been filed since 2019, but panels of the chamber have yet to initiate even a single hearing on these. — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag