SPECIAL REPORT Extrajudicial killings
Manila Times Online Edition
Monday, July 16, 2007
SPECIAL REPORT Extrajudicial killings
Even lawyers, court officials weren’t spared
By Julie V. Tolentino, Researcher
SINCE 2001, 26 lawyers and 10 judges have been killed for reasons related to their profession, according to the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), Philippines, a lawyers’ organization which believes that everyone is entitled to legal representation and that the cause of the client should not be imputed to counsel.
These attacks continue to this day, but the casualties from the law profession are just a small portion of the 755 civilians who have been killed extrajudicially, according to CODAL.
Three hundred fifty-nine survived similar attacks, CODAL said, but 184 persons are still missing.
“The attacks on life, liberty and property are against the very basic right of a human being,” said Edre U. Olalia, international officer of CODAL, Philippines. “As lawyers we are tasked to defend these rights. We all believe in the rule of law; in effective and independent legal representation; in due process; in freedom, democracy and justice. Noble words that can be achieved if those tasked to uphold them are free from any attack on their lives, liberty and property.
“As advocates, we face these threats and hardships while we perform our duties to our clients, to the profession, to the courts, and to society.”
Stories of killings of lawyers and judges who only wanted to defend the rights of other people are in the database of CODAL.
Atty. Gil Gojol, a human rights and labor lawyer, was returning to Sorsogon City in Bicol after a court hearing on Dec.12, 2006. He was in his van, driven by Danilo France, when four armed men on motorcycles shot at the vehicle. France was killed first. Gojol tried to flee but was shot in the buttocks. He fell on his face and was shot in the head. He died from four gunshot wounds in the body. They were killed about 200 meters away from the army detachment of the 22nd Infantry Battalion in San Ignacio, Gubat, Sorsogon.
Since the 1990s, Gojol, legal counsel of the Association of Democratic Labor Organizations-Kilusang Mayo Uno (ADLO-KMU) and former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Sorsogon Chapter, has been handling almost all of the human rights cases in his area, including cases of minors who were unjustly imprisoned, according to CODAL
Judge Nathaniel Pattugalan of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 35, survived an attempt on his life in October 2005 when he was assigned to the Bagao Metropolitan Trial Court in Cagayan. Armed men had fired at his vehicle, killing his driver. The attack prompted Pattugalan to request the Supreme Court to transfer him to another post, preferably in Manila.
But on January 19, 2007, Pattugalan was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle. The judge was in a public utility vehicle in front of city hall when a single bullet hit him in the chest. His relatives said that since the first attack on his life, Pattugalan rode in public transportation vehicles, “thinking that he would be a harder target since there would be many witnesses.”
Rodolfo Paglinawan, a paralegal of Purefoods Workers’ Union, Metro Manila, was gunned down inside a fast-food chain in Cubao, Quezon City, by unidentified assailants on August 24, 2006. He was a labor union organizer.
On May 15 2006, Atty. Rogelio Montero and his son Fiscal, both of San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, attended a hearing and were looking for a place to have a snack. While alighting from their vehicle; unidentified assailants suddenly appeared and pistol-whipped Montero, killing him. Police said an “old grudge” was the motive in the slaying.
Atty. Carlo Magno Umingga of the People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) in Pangasinan was gunned down, and his wife seriously injured, when armed men attacked them on April 14, 2006. Umingga had earned the ire of many policemen because of his work with PLEB, a government agency prosecuting erring policemen, among others.
On March 31, 2006, Atty. Godofredo Pacenio, Jr., city prosecutor of Butuan City, Agusan del Norte in Mindanao, was on his way home to Buenavista in a public transport vehicle when another passenger shot him dead.
Judge Henrick Gingoyon of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) was walking home in Bacoor, Cavite, after working out in a nearby gym when he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman. Gingoyon, former counsel of BAYAN and the militant May First Movement (KMU), was the judge whose ruling in the controversial Piatco case was unfavorable to the government. Before he was killed on December 31, 2005, Gingoyon had received various threats several times in his career.
Judge Estrellita Paas of RTC Pasay City was stabbed to death in her home in Natividad town in Pangasinan on September 23, 2005. Two suspects were arrested for her murder, but the case was dismissed for lack of probable cause in November 2005
Atty. Eugenia Vinluan Campol, a Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO) lawyer in Baguio City, was gunned down by unidentified men while she was on her way to her car near University of Baguio in September 2005. Campol was the lead counsel for a complaint for abuse of authority and oppression filed before the Ombudsman against Boliney, Abra vice-mayor Dominador Sianen. The complainant was Campol’s husband, Julius. Police said Boliney Mayor Ronald Balaoas and his father, Benido, a former mayor, ordered Campol’s murder committed by Bernard Fassong. Close