Friday, February 23

On the killing of Abra lawyer

GUNNED down in public and in broad daylight, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemns the killing of lawyer Maria Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales-Alzate. 

Based on initial news reports, two unidentified assailants boarding a motorcycle got close to the lawyer’s vehicle and opened fire at least eight times on Thursday, September 14, 2023. She was parked in front of their house along Santiago Street, Zone 2 in Bangued, Abra when the shooting happened. The lawyer was brought to the hospital after the incident but also died later that day. 

Gonzales-Alzate was a former president of the Abra chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), a public interest lawyer, and IBP Commissioner of Bar Discipline since 2015. 

CHR strongly condemns the killing of another lawyer and joins the call for law enforcement agencies to urgently pursue the perpetrators of this violence so they may be brought to justice. 

Amid calls to address impunity, threats and attacks against the members of the legal profession directly affront the rule of law. CHR has since stressed their important role: courts, lawyers, and judges are crucial in administering justice, as well as in uncovering the truth, especially for gross human rights violations.

It is in the best interest of the government to protect lawyers so they may do their duty of ensuring justice without fear of threats and retaliation, especially for those who continue to stand up for the rights and interests of the weak, vulnerable, and marginalized members of the society. 

By virtue of Proclamation No. 713, s. 2004, every September has been declared as Rule of Law Month. May this declaration stand as a reminder of the value of demonstrating equal protection under our laws, including ensuring that crimes and violations of rights simply do not go scot-free because even lawyers are under attack. CHR

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