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Palace vows justice as ‘strong leads’ on Abra lawyer slay emerge

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday said it had gathered "strong leads'' in its investigation into the killing of a lawyer in Abra as Malacañang vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

"Antayin lang natin ‘yung resulta ng investigation, but I am happy to report that may mga strong leads tayo," PNP chief Police General Benjamin Acorda said during the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.

(Let's wait for the result of the investigation, but I am happy to report that we already have strong leads.)

"Maganda ‘yung mga lead natin and hopefully we can come up with a stronger pronouncement," Acorda said.

(These are good leads, and hopefully we can come up with a stronger pronouncement.)

On Thursday, Atty. Maria Saniata Alzate was killed by two men riding in tandem who immediately left after the attack.

She was parked in front of her house in Bangued, Abra, when the shooting happened.

Alzate was brought to the hospital after the incident but died later that day. 

The Abra Provincial Police Office is conducting an investigation to identify the perpetrators and motive behind the shooting.

The attack also marked the first recorded shooting incident in Abra since the implementation of the gun ban in connection with the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections next month. 

"With regards to whether it’s election-related, antayin na lang natin ‘yun resulta ng [investigation]," the PNP chief said.

(With regards to whether it's election-related, let's wait for the result of the investigation.)

The PNP chief said that Alzate was "very passionate and very vocal when it comes to rights, and we are looking to that."

In a statement, the Office of the President described Alzate as a ''fearless and steadfast lawyer, principled in her practice of law, and unrelenting in her pursuit of justice.''

''She worked tirelessly both as a public interest lawyer and as a commissioner of bar discipline. Her death is a tragedy as well as for the good province of Abra and for the legal profession,'' the OP said through Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, who hails from Abra.

The OP said it would ensure that law enforcement agencies ''will work relentlessly to bring to justice those behind this heinous act.''

"Hot pursuit operations are already ongoing, and we call upon our citizens to remain vigilant," it added.

"We are one with the family of Atty. Maria Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales Alzate in this time of grief, and we offer them our most sincere and heartfelt condolences.''

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it ''strongly condemns the killing of another lawyer and joins the call for law enforcement agencies to urgently pursue the perpetrators of this violence so they may be brought to justice.''

''It is in the best interest of the government to protect lawyers so they may do their duty of ensuring justice without fear of threats and retaliation, especially for those who continue to stand up for the rights and interests of the weak, vulnerable, and marginalized members of society,'' the CHR said. —VBL, GMA Integrated News