Lawyers want Arroyo's action on judge slaying

MANILA -- A lawyers' group urged President Gloria Macapagal on Sunday to move "swiftly and decisively" in investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of Pasay City Judge Henrick Gingoyon as police assured to leave no stone unturned in the probe. 

Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (Codal) in a statement condemns the slaying of Gingoyon and the impunity that rages the country with the unsolved killing of members of the legal profession, journalists and activists.

Gingoyon was walking towards his house in Soldier's Hills Village, Molino 6 Saturday when ambushed by two unidentified suspects on board a motorcycle. He suffered four gunshot wounds on his body and was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians in nearby Imus General Hospital. 

"Judge Gingoyon's controversial decisions as a judge or his previous involvement as counsel of Bayan and KMU does not justify his killing. Members of the legal profession, like journalists and activists, must not be attacked for the practice of their profession or political beliefs. The attacks against lawyers and judges are attacks against the legal profession and civil liberties," Codal spokesperson Neri Javier Colmenares said in a statement. 

Cavite police authorities said they will look into all cases being handled by Gingoyon apart from the expropriation case between the government and the Philippine International Air Terminals Company (Piatco). 

Senior Supt. Benjardi Mantele, Cavite Provincial Police chief, said they have coordinated with the clerk of court of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court to secure records of Gingoyon's previous cases. 

"We are looking at all angles... we can't focus on a particular case," Mantele said, adding that investigators have taken the testimonies of two witnesses. 

Mantele said investigators would also look into Gingoyon's "personal dealings" for more clues on the case. 

In January last year, Gingoyon ordered the government to pay P62.3 million as initial payment to Piatco before it could take over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal-3. 

Earlier this month, the High Court upheld Gingoyon's ruling and ordered the government to pay Piatco a total of P3 billion for constructing the said airport. 

The consortium of German firm Fraport AG and its Filipino partners, Piatco, built a $650 million terminal in Manila under a deal with the government in 1998. 

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had rescinded the government's contract with Piatco in November 2002 due to alleged onerous provisions in the deal, prompting the company to seek compensation before local and foreign courts. 

Codal, which was originally organized by judges, lawyers and law students as the committee for the defenses against attacks on lawyers to protests the killing and harassment of members of the legal profession, circulated a Manifesto signed by hundreds of lawyers including Integrated Bar of the Philippines provincial chapters nationwide and international lawyers groups. 

Arroyo has yet to act on the manifesto on the killing of lawyers submitted by Codal in August 2005 urging her to publicly condemn the killing and harassment of members of the legal profession. 

Colmenares said Codal recorded 15 violent attacks against lawyers in 2005. Other than Judge Gingoyon, seven lawyers, many of whom were human rights lawyers, were killed in 2005: Felidito Dacut (Leyte), Norman Bocar (Samar), Ambrosio Matias and his son Leonard (Nueva Ecija), PAO lawyer Teresita Vidamo (Las Pinas), Victor Padilla (Manila) and Reuel Dalguntas (Davao). Human rights lawyer Charles Juloya was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt last March 2005. 

Lawyer Romeo Capulong, Judge ad Litem to the Yugoslavian International Criminal Tribunal and head of the Lawyer-Presentors of the Peoples Congress on Truth and Accountability (CCTA), was also the subject of an assassination attempt in Nueva Ecija. 

PAO lawyer Armando Cabalida was ambushed in February 2005 resulting in the death of his driver. 

"These brazen attacks undermine the practice of law and the ability of lawyers to fulfill their sworn obligation to serve their clients to the fullest," Colmenares said. 

"Judges are expected to promulgate their decision without fear or favor based on their evaluation of the evidence presented. Their decisions should not be influenced by the consideration of the capacity of one of the parties to physically eliminate them. The recent attacks, however, threaten the independence and integrity of judges thus making the effective administration of justice even more difficult or elusive. Canon 1 (Rule 1.03) of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge should be vigilant against any attempt to subvert the independence of the judiciary and resist any pressure from whatever source," he added. 

Colmenares calls on members of the legal profession to unite and protest against these attacks and threats on the legal profession and the justice system in the country. "We must end impunity and the breakdown of the justice system in the Philippines," he said. (Sunnex)

02/01/2006

Bron : Sun Star Online

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