Letter on murder of Atty. Trinidad
22 August 2019

Letter on murder of Atty. Trinidad

Philippines

On 23 July 2019, Atty. Anthony Trinidad was killed in an attack by unidentified motorcycle-riding men in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental. Lawyers for Lawyers has reason to believe that the killing of Atty. Trinidad is connected to his legitimate professional activities and called on the Government of the Philippines to carry out a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the killing of Atty. Trinidad and the killing of other lawyers.

Prior to being attacked, Atty Trinidad had been receiving death threats in connection to the cases he was handling, some of which are that of political prisoners in the region. Atty. Trinidad had also been tagged as a supporter of communist rebels on Negros Island. Earlier in 2018, his name was said to be included in a ‘hit list’ of an alleged anti-communist group called Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (KAGUBAK).

The same happened to Atty. Benjamin Ramos Jr. who was killed in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on November 6, 2018. He also reportedly received death threats in relation to cases he was handling and was tagged by the Philippine policy in a public poster as among the members of an underground armed movement. Atty. Ramos was a prominent pro-bono lawyer in Negros representing peasants, environmentalists, activists and political prisoners.

The practice of labelling (i.e. classifying persons as “enemies of the State”) – combined with the culture of impunity was identified by national and international fact-finding missions as one of the main root causes of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in the past.

The cases of Atty. Trinidad and Atty. Ramos are not isolated. On 23 August 2018, another lawyer in Negros Occidental, Atty. Raphael Atotubo, was killed in front of his house in Barangay 20, Bacolod City, when a gunman alighted from a motorcycle and shot him twice at close range. It has been reported that Atty. Atotubo was mainly representing clients in drug-related cases.

Lawyers for Lawyers is deeply concerned over the increasing attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and the oppressive working environment they face since the start of President Duterte’s administration. At least 45 lawyers, prosecutors and (retired) judges have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July 2016, including 23 practicing lawyers.

Read the full letter here

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