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Cebu lawyers, human rights activists condemn EJK of vice mayor

Groups of lawyers and human rights advocates call for justice in the extra-judicial killing (EJK) of Ronda Vice Mayor and lawyer Jonnah John Ungab by gunmen in Cebu City on Monday morning.

The Cebu for Human Rights (Cebu4HR) and Young Lawyer’s Association of Cebu, Inc. (YLAC) condemn the killing of a colleague.

The Cebu 4HR also reiterated their demand for President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the extra-judicial killings.

"The killing of Atty. Ungab, close to the Cebu City Hall of Justice, was meant to send a message to lawyers not to defend those accused of drug violations," the Cebu4HR said in a statement.

The group also defended Ungab, who was the lawyer of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Ungab was shot twice in the head by suspects riding in tandem just outside the Cebu City Hall of Justice at the Quimonda IT Center on Monday morning.

Espinosa and Ungab had attended a court hearing on a 2010 case in which Espinosa was found carrying a firearm in violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

The C4HR said "Ungab did not deserve to die. He did not commit any crime by defending an alleged drug lord. He is just doing his job as a lawyer."

The group, which include human rights lawyers Democrito Barcenas, Magdalena Lepiten and Jay Pujanes, also said, "Atty. Ungab's killing is an attack against the legal profession and an attack against the judicial system which is one of the pillars of a democracy. His killing is creating an atmosphere of fear in the legal community and has a chilling effect on the lawyers, especially the criminal lawyers."

A group of young lawyers also issued a statement mourning the death of Ungab, a former seminarian.

"Our brother, Atty. Ungab has been known to accept cases where most lawyers would not dare engage in, he has fought diligently in these cases and has brought Justice to his clients," YLAC said in a statement.

They described Ungab as "a person who has a great smile and is best remembered for his kind heart."

The group also recalled that Ungab was one of the around 200 lawyers who signed a petition against extra-judicial killing sometime July 30, 2016.  — BAP, GMA News