Press Release
July 28, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged lawyers to undertake a common effort in defending victims of injustice and oppression in the wake of rampant violation of human rights due to the perceived emergence of an authoritarian rule.

Lawyers should stand up as an organization for the victims of injustice and oppression all over the land especially on the issue of extrajudicial killings, he said.

Even as he called for the lawyers active involvement in protecting civil liberties, Pimentel commended the Supreme Court for taking steps to cleanse the ranks of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

He made the statement following the decision of the high tribunal to suspend Atty. Leonardo de Vera from the practice of law and barring him from assuming the presidency of the IBP.

De Vera was suspended for three years after establishing that he has used for his personal purposes the $12,000 insurance proceeds he received on behalf of his client while practicing law in California in early 1980s.

Its a good thing that the Supreme Court has started to cleanse the ranks of the IBP. The lawyers are instruments of justice, but if they themselves are unjust in their dealings with others, then they have no right to run the lawyers organization, Pimentel said.

Pimentel, an active human rights lawyer before being elected as senator, decried that not only are activists of various stripes being targeted for extrajudicial killings but even lawyers and judges are being put to extreme risks.

According to the International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM), 15 lawyers and 10 judges have been killed in the Philippines since 2001. Also almost 700 other individuals, most of whom are political activists, have been slain during the period.

The Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation, which organized the IFFM, expressed alarm over these findings.

Especially worrisome is the fact that the IFFM has concluded that the Philippine government has hardly done anything to address the extrajudicial killings effectively, Pimentel said.

Among those killed were Judges Henrick Gingoyon, Estrellita Paas, Voltaire Rosales, and Paterno Tiamson and lawyers Rogelo Montero, Victor Padilla, Arbeth Yongco and Juvy Magsino.

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