The Department of Justice is ready to investigate the attack against lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen in Iloilo City last March 3, 2021, if the incident had something to do with his legal advocacies, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday.
Guevarra said he will endorse the investigation of the incident by the DOJ’s task force under the 2012 Administrative Order 35, which created the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations to the Rights to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons. The DOJ is part of the inter-agency committee.
“If he has good reason to believe that it’s related to his advocacies, I will refer the matter to the AO 35 task force for appropriate action,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
“We’ll wait for Attorney Guillen to make a statement about the incident.”
Guillen, an assistant vice president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, was reportedly attacked by two masked men on the night of March 3 in Iloilo City.
Guillen is the lawyer in one of the 37 petitions filed with the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. He is a known legal defender of activists and human rights advocates.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines rallied all lawyers to continue performing courageously their sworn duty amid what it calls “the pandemic of criminality.”
“The danger and terror are real but we enjoin Filipino lawyers to courageously do their sworn duty. Inflicting violence on those who seek justice is criminality in the highest degree,” IBP President Domingo Egon Cayosa said in a statement.
Cayosa said the IBP condemns the attempt against the life of Guillen who handles “pro bono cases for the poor and the marginalized and is vocal against abuse and oppression.”
“The IBP Iloilo Chapter helped secure bail for him when he was arrested for publicly protesting and expressing his views and grievances with others in Iloilo City. He has been red-tagged and threatened many times,” Cayosa said.
He said the “IBP stands ready to help and cooperate with Atty. Guillen’s family, investigators, and law enforcers to identify, pursue, arrest, and resolutely prosecute the suspects.”
He also urged the government “to secure its citizens and its international obligation to ensure that lawyers can do their job without fear, harassment or retribution.”