THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 launched its separate probe on the murder of Atty. Rex Fernandez who was gunned down inside his car by an unidentified assailant at R. Duterte St. in BarangayGuadalupe, Cebu City on Thursday, August 26, 2021.
Lawyer Arvin Odron, CHR 7 director, said it would be better that not only one government agency would investigate Fernandez’ murder since the victim was not an ordinary legal practitioner, but was also a human rights advocate. Odron personally knew Fernandez.
“After we received that information coming from the social media, I asked our chief investigator, Leo Villarino, to verify with the police the identity of the victim if it was really Atty. Rex Fernandez. After it was confirmed that it was Atty. Rex, I immediately notified our central office and directed the Investigation Division of the CHR 7 to investigate,” he said.
“He also has advocacy on human rights. Usa na sa atong gitan-aw sa mga killings of personalities who have advocacy on human rights para makuhaan nato og data on how frequent ang mga attacks against persons advocating for human rights,” he added.
(He was an advocate of human rights. That is one of the things we are looking into when it comes to killings of personalities who have advocacy on human rights so that we can get data on the frequency of attacks against these advocates.)
He said while the police’s investigation for this case is focused on the commission of the crime, the CHR’s focus of the investigation is on the aspect of human rights.
He said they are also looking at different motives if his ambush was work-related or personal.
Fernandez also made into the news about two weeks before his death when he held a hunger strike after the management of the condominium he was living in cut his water supply, along with other 19 unit owners, even though he secured an injunction against the developer.
Odron said the CHR 7 strongly condemned the killing of Fernandez and asked the authorities to intensify their investigation.
He assured that their separate investigation will still be coordinated with the law enforcement agencies also handling Fernandez’ case, including the sharing of information and evidence.
“We’ll focus on, naa may killing, that is an established fact, ours is to identify if such is considered as arbitrary killing,” he said.
“We will gather information to verify this and we will make a conclusion later if there was indeed a finding of human rights abuse and then we will collate our own evidence to that of the law enforcement. We can give our investigation report to supplement their evidence as our purpose is for the family of the victim to be given justice,” he said.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City chapter, where Fernandez was also a member, issued a statement denouncing his murder and urging law enforcement authorities to investigate the case promptly.
“We call upon the law enforcement agencies, especially the investigative bodies of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to identify the perpetrators, relentlessly pursue and hold them accountable,” IBP Cebu City chapter president MichelleMendez-Palmares said in a statement. (WBS)