MANILA, Philippines — Violence has no place in the legal profession’s fight against injustice, a group of lawyers asserted following the red-tagging of a Mandaluyong judge who freed two activists.
The La Salle Green Hills Alumni Lawyers Association on Thursday said it is reckless to “state that risk and danger is part of the life of lawyers and judges and such is part of their profession.”
“Rather, we believe that the pursuit of justice by lawyers and its dispensation by judges are essential to preserving our democracy and the guarantee of equal protection for all regardless of status, race, religion, gender and even political beliefs,” they added.
Veteran rights lawyer and Dean Chel Diokno leads the list of 22 signatories.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier this week distanced the President Rodrigo Duterte from the 61 killings of lawyers in just five years in the latter’s term. Guevarra has also noted that lawyering for other cases or causes may be attended with risks.
An independent tally from the Free Legal Assistance Group showed that the 61 slain lawyers in the Duterte administration is more than the number of killings in the six administration preceding the incumbent.
On top of these killings, lawyers have also been subjected to other violent attacks, intimidation and red-tagging.
The La Salle Green Hills Alumni Lawyers Association also said they stand with Mandaluyong Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, whose face appeared in a tarpaulin supposedly from the Communist Party of the Philippines thanking her for freeing their “comrades.”
“Such despicable actions endanger the lives of judges and undermine the rule of law in the entire country,” they said.
Ignacio voided the search warrant that led to the arrest of journalist Lady Ann Salem and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago and ordered their release. A month later, she was red-tagged.
The group echoed the sentiment that the red-tagging of the judge is also an attack on the judiciary. “We believe that it is reckless and barbaric to red-tag judges like Judge Monique for adhering to the Canons of Judicial Ethics, and for upholding the Constitution and the rule of law,” they added. — Kristine Joy Patag
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