23 August 2018
Another dear brethren falls with his boots on
NUPL strongly condemns the continuing attacks on lawyers with the atrocious killing of Atty. Rafael Atotubo in Bacolod by unidentified assailants riding in tandem. While Atty. Atotubo has represented many illegal drugs suspects in court, this can not in any way justify his killing. No lawyer should be attacked for the exercise of their profession especially since everybody has the constitutional right to counsel and access to courts.
The brazeness of the attack committed in a public place in broad daylight is strikingly similar to the modus operandi of the continuing extrajudicial killings all over the country. This shows that the killers were never afraid of being accosted by the police, which only strengthens the theory that the police is involved in the killings. The fact that President Duterte previously threatened lawyers who represent drug suspects only adds more to the belief that the killings are state-sponsored or condoned.
We are wary that the killing of this low-profile and quiet lawyer will end up unsolved like the thousands of extrajudicial killings nationwide. This barbaric act comes on the heels of the continuing attacks and threats on prosecutors and practising lawyers who in one way or another perform their professional duties in regard to drug cases. We dread the message written large by the authorities: “lawyers back off or you will be next.”
We ask the Supreme Court and the local and international legal comminity to strongly denounce this latest attack and criticise the failure of the Duterte administratiion to stop the killings and arrest the killers not only of lawyers but civilians who were victims of extrajudicial killings. We also ask colleagues in the legal profession to help families of victims achieve justice for the death of their loved ones.
We demand that President Duterte, himself a lawyer and former prosecutor, to publicly condemn the killing and declare that lawyers should not be attacked for the exercise of their profession. We demand that he publicly commit that the perpetrators be held accountable under the law.
We will not back off. We shall close ranks and stand our ground.
Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares
(0917) 835 0459
Atty. Edre U. Olalia