By Democrito a. Barcenas
The Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) recently released the grim statistics that since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June 2016, 62 lawyers have been killed nationwide.
Flag said that for 44 years from former presidents Ferdinand Marcos to Benigno Aquino III, 28 lawyers or judges were killed or disappeared compared to the five years of President Duterte that already has 62 reported dead or missing.
Flag data showed that during the era of former president Marcos (1972-1986) there were seven cases; Corazon Aquino (1986-1992), nine cases; Fidel Ramos (1992-1998), no reported case; Joseph Estrada (1998-2001), two cases; Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001- 2010), nine cases; and Noynoy Aquino (2010-2016), only one lawyer was reported killed or missing.
The above figures which show the deadly toll of lawyers in just five years under Duterte is indeed alarming. It reflects the culture of impunity and the climate of violence that have unfortunately numbed the senses of Filipinos who should have been outraged by these bloody developments.
This spiral of criminality is the result of Duterte’s lack of respect for human life and human rights. The victims are not confined to lawyers. We have witnessed in the last five years the bloody war on drugs that has claimed the lives of more than 20,000 poor suspects in gross violation of the rule of law and the Constitution.
Last March 7, 2021, blood flowed in what writers termed as the “Sunday Bloodbath of Calabarzon” where simultaneous police raids in Calabarzon left nine activists dead.
We must be vigilant in these perilous times. For according to the French philosopher, Voltaire, “it is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”