Groups condemn lawyer’s ambush, call for perpetrators’ arrest

·4 min read

TWO more groups have joined the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter and Cebu Port Authority (CPA) in condemning the ambush of lawyer Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales and her son Thursday night, September 1, 2022.

In their respective statements, Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag)-Cebu chapter and University of the Philippines (UP) Alumni Association-Cebu Chapter called on law enforcement authorities to arrest the persons behind the shooting.

The IBP Cebu City said late Thursday, September 1, that it is offering a P50,000 reward to anyone who can give information that will lead to the arrest of the shooter and other persons responsible for the attack.

It called on “all law abiding, peace loving, concerned and responsible citizens to help us find and identify the perpetrator/s of this senseless crime.”

The CPA, in a separate statement, also condemned the ambush and called for a “swift and transparent investigation” and arrest of the perpetrators.

“The Cebu Port Authority and the whole Cebu Port community are both shocked and distressed to learn about the unfortunate shooting incident of our beloved CPA official and her teenage son at Hernan Cortes, Mandaue City yesterday. We vehemently condemn this grace act of violence and we call on the authorities to conduct a swift and transparent investigation and bring the perpetrators to answer for their crimes to the fullest extent of the law,” it said.

The CPA also urged the public “not to share insensitive media posts regarding the incident nor further disclose personal information of the victims that could jeopardize their safety and privacy.”

Gonzales is working for the CPA as head of the Business and Marketing Department.

She was driving a vehicle with her 19-year-old son when they were waylaid on Hernan Cortes, Barangay Banilad, Mandaue City around 10 p.m. Thursday. They were rushed to a hospital for treatment and police said that as of Friday morning, the two victims were in stable condition.

Lawyer Magdalena Lepiten, Flag-Cebu chairperson, said in a statement that they are praying for the recovery of Gonzales and her son.

“We, as members of Flag-Cebu, condemn the ambush against Atty. Karen and we pray for her and her son's speedy recovery. We pray that law enforcement agencies will work hard to investigate the incident and arrest the perpetrators,” Lepiten said.

She said Gonzales is a member of Flag-Cebu chapter and “any assault on a lawyer reminds us how close we are to the brush of death in these difficult times.”

“We, likewise, denounce the continued attack against human rights workers, members of the clergy and ordinary citizens. Extrajudicial killings that flourished under the Duterte administration continue unchecked under Marcos Jr.'s rule. As members of Flag, we will continue to fight for the protection and promotion of human rights of everyone in the Philippines,” the group added.

The UP Alumni Association-Cebu Chapter, for its part, said the ambush “has no place in Metropolitan Cebu at a time when the transition to the new normal is imperative to enable economic recovery.”

“Crimes such as this set back the confidence of the very people who can drive that recovery onwards. The victims could have been very well any one of us going home from work during a hard day's night,” it said.

“We therefore call on law enforcement authorities to solve the case and bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice,” it added.

Gonzales is a graduate of UP Cebu (high school and college). She is working for CPA as head of the Business and Marketing Department, said police.

The IBP Cebu City said that based on data from lawyer Abraham Acosta, a member of the chapter’s Board of Directors and Flag, 14 lawyers were killed in Cebu since 2004.

The latest fatality was human rights lawyer Rex Fernandez, who was gunned down on August 26, 2021, in Cebu City.

“For the months October-December 2020 alone, three lawyers have been shot, with only one surviving the ambush. Most of the rest, unfortunately, have not yet been given the justice that they had studied and served during their lifetimes,” said Acosta through IBP Cebu City president lawyer Michelle Geraldine Mendez-Palmares. (LMY)