PHILIPPINES: Podcast – Unsolved killings of judges and lawyers
(Hong Kong, February 1, 2012) In this episode of cast, the AHRC comments on how the policemen who are investigating the killing of court judges and lawyers have been using the “lack of witnesses and evidence” as justification of their neglect and incompetence in solving cases.
In this report (time code: 14:05- 16:45), the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Legislative Council) of Ilocos Norte conducted an inquiry into the killing of court judges and lawyers. The local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) had reportedly asked the council to inquire into the inability of the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a special investigating unit; in solving cases and bringing them to court for prosecution.
These cases include the murder of Judge Ariston Rubio in October 31, 2001; lawyer Eddie Gregorio in June 13, 2009, Judge Predelito Pingao in January 16, 2011 and three other lawyers who could not be named yet for lack of details. During the inquiry, in her testimony Rubio’s wife expressed disappointments as to why, after over ten years of the police’s investigation, nothing substantial come of it.
In Judge Rubio’s case, the AHRC is of the opinion that the failure to solve his case is not an issue of lack of witnesses or evidence, but rather the police investigators using this as justifications to exonerate themselves from neglect and incompetence. In this instance the police placed more emphasis on defending themselves than solving the case.
In Philippines, the police have the obligation to protect persons at risk. They are obliged also to ensure that those who would want testify in court are; firstly, given adequate security protection; secondly, recommends they are admitted to the government’s Witness Protection Programme (WPP).
The police should be asked what action they have taken. No witnesses would ever bother to testify unless the policemen involved are competent and ensure an adequate protection mechanism for them. It is completely absurd for the policemen to tell witnesses to come forward and then have them wait. They must first give assurances and prove to those who want to testify that they would be given adequate protection.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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