Human Rights Lawyer Shot Dead in Front of His Residence in Southern Philippines

Three unidentified gunmen fatally shot a human rights lawyer multiple times in front of his residence in southern Philippines on Sept. 15, police said.

Police in the Philippine province of South Cotabato has launched an investigation into the killing of Juan Macababbad, the vice chairperson of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), near his residence at 5:30 p.m. in Surallah.

Macababbad is the 65th lawyer slain under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a tally by Philippine online news website Rappler.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers counts Macababbad as the 58th lawyer killed under the current administration because the group only counts those whose deaths appear to be work-related.

According to UPLM, Macababbad has been receiving death threats before his murder.

“While the case may go through the usual investigation, as with the other growing number of unresolved cases, it is clear that the murder of Atty. Macababbad is connected to his vocation of lawyering for the people,” UPLM Chair Antonio Azarcon said in a statement.

“The climate of impunity pervades with the lack of serious investigation and prosecution over thousands of extrajudicial killings in the country. The legal profession is not spared, and our colleagues have become main targets especially those who resist tyranny and defend human rights,” Azarcon further said.

Azarcon called on the government to serve justice to what he described as a “dastardly crime” and also urged the international community to denounce the attacks against Filipino lawyers.

“If they cannot stop the killings, then they should give way to those who have the moral ascendancy to bring back peace and justice to our country,” Azarcon said.

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