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In lawyers' killings, buck stops with gov't —NUPL chief


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In the killings of lawyers in the Philippines, the buck stops with the government, the president of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said Tuesday.

NUPL chief Edre Olalia made the statement following the deaths of a trial court judge in Manila and a young lawyer in Palawan, occurring within the span of six days.

Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla was shot dead by her own clerk of court inside her office last week. On Tuesday, 35-year-old lawyer Eric Jay Magcamit was killed along the highway in Palawan while he was on his way to a hearing.

According to the NUPL, 52 lawyers, prosecutors, and judges have died in what appeared to be work-related killings since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.

"There have been just way too many deaths among our own ranks and the biggest irony is that we cannot even get justice ourselves," Olalia said in a statement.

"By any measure, the buck ultimately stops with the government especially one that has cultivated and enabled a new abnormal of a climate of threat, intimidation and violence in our society and one that has emboldened the attacks on human rights defenders," he added.

In December last year, the NUPL reported the killings to the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, asking for a fact-finding mission on human rights violations in the country.

The group said at the time that at least 15 of the lawyers killed had handled cases of human rights violations or drug offenses.

The NUPL also said its own members have been "baselessly" linked to communist rebels, a tag they said has endangered their lives. One NUPL lawyer, Benjamin Ramos, was shot dead in 2018.—LDF, GMA News

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