Sereno airs concern over number of lawyers killed
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has expressed concerns over the number of lawyers who were killed in an ambush over the past years.
“I think everyone should be alarmed. For any country in the world, when killings are done brazenly, every citizen must ask where society is headed towards. Is this a breakdown that we are seeing?,” she said in a dialogue with law students at the Sacred Heart Center in Cebu City on Wednesday afternoon.
Sereno gave her reaction in response to queries on the death of Cebuano lawyer Jonnah John Ungab who was gunned down in broad daylight by a still unidentified assailant infront of the Cebu City Hall of Justice last Monday.
Ungab, the lawyer of self-confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., was the 10th lawyer who killed in Cebu since 2004.
Sereno extended his condolences to Ungab’s family and hoped that the killing won’t stop other lawyers from carrying their roles in protecting their clients and making sure that justice is served.
The chief justice requested Executive Judge Gilbert Moises of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City to provide the Supreme Court a copy of the police report on Ungab’s slay so that proper actions can be taken to secure members of the judiciary and the lawyers.
“The slay of Atty. Ungab was a very horrible incident. It’s so sad; so horrific. Let me just express the sorrow of the judiciary that another lawyer’s life has been taken,” she said.
“No citizen, regardless of what he does for a living, should suffer such a fate he has, specially that he justcame from a court hearing,” she added.
Sereno begged off from further discussing about Ungab’s slay as cases might soon be filed against the perpetrators.
“On the part of the judiciary, our role is to hear cases when they are filed before us. And until a justiciable case come along, I cannot talk much about this particular killing,” she said.
Sereno said she is nonetheless coordinating with Moises to beef up the security at the Cebu City Hall of Justice.
“We will augment the security that we have. There is really a need to keep judges and lawyers safe. You cannot have lawyers who are not willing to pratice in some areas because they are so afraid of suffering a horrible fate,” she said.
Since 2004, nine other lawyers in Cebu had been brutally killed.
In December 2016, lawyers Goering George Paderanga, Sr. and Gerik Caesare Paderanga were shot dead by a security guard following a disagreement on the use of a narrow road in F. Ramos Street in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Cebu City on December 22, 2016.
The security guard, who earlier admitted to killing the two lawyers, was arrested and is facing double murder charges in court.
In August 2015, lawyer Amelie Alegre and her law associate, Briccio Joseph Boholst, were shot by two unidentified men on board a motorcycle while inside the car of Boholst in Mandaue City.
Alegre died on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds on the body. Boholst was hit on the left leg while their accountant Antonio Pino was hit in the stomach. Boholst and Pino survived.
The perpetrators had not been identified to date.
In February 2015, lawyer Noel Archival was ambushed along with his three companions in Dalaguete town in southern Cebu. At least three officers of the Highway Patrol Group were charged in court but they remain at large.
In 2013, lawyer Jubian Achas was killed by a disgruntled litigant in one of the courtrooms at the Cebu Palace of Justice along with his client Dr. Rene Rafols.
The attack carried out by a Canadian expat John Pope who also seriously injured lady prosecutor Maria Theresa Calibugan-Casiño.
In 2010, former Regional State Prosecutor Hernando Masangkay was killed inside his residence in Talisay City. Charges were filed against a 17-year-old boy who was accused of killing Masangkay.
In 2009, public prosecutor Patrick Ian Osorio was killed in an ambush in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City. The two perpetrators were convicted by the trial court.
In 2008, lawyer Richard William Sison was shot dead around noon in Cebu City. Nemuel Sumabong, a security guard, was convicted in 2012.
Also in that grim list of lawyers claimed by a hail of bullets was female lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco who shot inside her residence in Cebu City in 2004. Yongco prosecuted the parricade case of cult leader Ruben Ecleo who was accused of killing his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.
The alleged assassin, Michael Favila, a member of Ecleo’s cult, was arrested but he died from complications to diabetes in 2009.
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