Baler Regional Trial Court Judge Erwin Alaba is the 24th judge assassinated in the Philippines since 1999. According to research data gathered by the International Association of People’s Lawyers, from that year to the present, a total of 116 lawyers have been murdered.
Clearly the Philippines is a very dangerous place for lawyers. While there is much publicity given, rightfully, to the killings of journalists, accompanied by calls for the government to develop and implement a policy for protecting them, there is little such concern expressed in the media for the protection of lawyers. Indeed, it would likely surprise Inquirer readers to learn that, during the tenure of President Aquino, there have been more lawyers killed (38) than journalists (32).
Lawyers are not the most admired professionals, but without them the rule of law would not survive. It is often the lawyers who are most concerned to protect the rights of others without thought for their own safety and thus become the victims of murderous attacks.
It is hoped that the Inquirer will bring pressure on the government to do more to protect lawyers and thereby reduce the threat to democracy in the Philippines.