Who is Atty. Rex Fernandez?
(Updated) MANDAUE CITY, Cebu –Just hours after the killing of Atty. Rex Fernandez in a broad daylight ambush in Cebu City, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) – Cebu Chapter released a statement condemning the ruthless killing of another lawyer.
“The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Cebu Chapter vehemently condemns the ruthless killing of Atty. Rex Jesus Mario Fernandez,” said part of the statement released Thursday evening, August 26, 2021.
“In honor of Atty. Rex, we will not be deterred. We shall continue rising to the occasion in our promise to uphold human rights for all. We will hold the line even more,” it added.
The 64-year-old lawyer was killed in a daring afternoon ambush along Duterte Street, Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City on Thursday.
Fernandez, who was sitting at the passenger’s seat, succumbed to gunshot wounds inflicted by a lone unidentified attacker past 4 p.m.
The NUPL said that Fernandez is the 57th lawyer killed under the Duterte administration and the 11th slain lawyer in Central Visayas within the same period. The NUPL said its standard of identification is ‘prima facie work-related killings.’
So who was Atty. Fernandez?
In the statement, NUPL-Cebu said Fernandez was one of its founding members who served as legal counsel in numerous human rights cases in Central Visayas.
These include the murder charges of political prisoners Eduardo Sacamay and Jigger Geverola; illegal possession of firearms case of Nito Banga, another political prisoner; and cases of simple disobedience and violations of the Public Assembly Act of 1985 against the “Cebu 8”, consisting of eight individuals arrested for alleged violations of community quarantine rules amid the Junk Anti-Terror Law protest action last June 2020 at the University of the Philippines-Cebu.
Fernandez was also one of the legal counsels who assisted to the court a multi-sectoral group that seeks to nullify the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Cebu City government and the construction giant, Megawide Construction Corp., over the Carbon Market modernization program on Wednesday, August 25, or a day prior to his death.
Atty. Fernandez recently went viral for staging a hunger strike as a sign of protest against the management of the condominium where he lived for cutting off his water supply despite an injunction issued by the court. He started the hunger strike on August 13. It was his 13th day on hunger when he was killed.
In an earlier interview with CDN Digital, the lawyer said that he would continue to go on hunger strike until the management obeys the law or until he dies.
NUPL-Cebu reiterated its call in demanding justice and accountability not just for the killing of Fernandez, but also to those unresolved killings of other lawyers, paralegals, and human rights workers.
Attack on the justice system
“The recent killing of Atty. Rex supports the long-observed spate of attacks against lawyers, paralegals, and human rights workers have dramatically increased as the culture of impunity continues and the lack of investigation and prosecution over thousands of extrajudicial killings in the country,” the statement read.
“NUPL Cebu demands justice and accountability for the killing of Atty. Rex and the unresolved killings of lawyers, paralegals, and human rights workers. We reiterate our call on the Philippine government to comply with its constitutional and international law obligations to guarantee the safety and integrity of human rights defenders, afford protection to the members of the legal profession, and ensure that they can perform their duties without harm, intimidation or harassment,” it added.
In a separate statement released on Thursday evening, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)- Cebu Chapter denounced the killing of Fernandez, saying that the attack for case-related motives is an attack on the justice system and the rule of law.
“The entire legal community cries in anger at this ruthless murder which brings immeasurable horror to the family, friends, and colleagues of Atty. Fernandez,” part of the statement read.
“An attack on our brother-in-law for case-related motives is an attack on the justice system and the rule of law we promised to protect. We, therefore, urge the law enforcement authorities to investigate this case promptly; otherwise, if no definitive resolution is made, the threats and deadly assault on lawyers will persist with impunity,” it added.
IBP-Cebu is appealing to the nearby establishments in the area where Fernandez was gunned down to cooperate with authorities or investigators and provide closed circuit television (CCTV) footage to help solve the case.
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