Excerpt from Repression & Resistance, The Filipino People vs Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, George W. Bush, et. al., Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Second Session on the Philippines, The Hague, The Netherlands, March 21-25, 2007.
The country is not only a dangerous place for journalists and activists but for members of the legal profession as well. In 2006 alone, a total of seven lawyers were killed while nine lawyers, one judge and one law student were killed in 2005. Most of those killed were human rights lawyers who were killed by reason of the exercise of their profession or advocacy. Also reported were a number of cases of threats and harassments against lawyers involved in land and labor disputes and human rights cases.
Juvy Magsino, 34 years old, was a human rights lawyer and the Vice Mayor of Naujan, Mindoro Oriental at the time of her death. She was also the Chairperson of Mindoro for Justice and Peace and a candidate Mayor for the 2004 elections.
Leima Fortu, 27 years old, was a teacher and Acting Secretary General of Karapatan-Mindoro Oriental. On the night of February 13, 2004, Magsino and Fortu were on their way home to Naujan from Calapan City in a Toyota Revo. At around 11 pm, as they were leaving their friend’s house, a man fired at them. As they sped off, two men on a motorcycle chased them and repeatedly fired at them. Later, their lifeless bodies were found inside Atty. Magsino’s Toyota Revo which was ditched in a rice field at Bgy. Amuguis, Naujan, Mindoro Oriental.The shooting happened only 500 meters from the 204th Brigade Headquarters. Elements of the military were responsible for the crime.
Felidito Dacut, 51 years old, married, was the Regional Coordinator and Legal Counsel of Bayan Muna partylist in Eastern Visayas. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Atty. Dacut was among those who initiated a ‘solidarity mission’ to investigate human rights violations in Catarman, Northern Samar. He was handling human rights and labor cases. On March 14, 2005 at around 6:45 p.m., Atty. Dacut was on board a multi-cab vehicle in Real St., Tacloban City on his way home from a meeting when he was shot in the back by two unidentified men who were aboard a TMX single motorcycle. The assailants who were wearing white round T-shirts and maong pants used a short pistol with ‘silencer.’
Gil Gojol has been a human rights and labor lawyer since the 1990s. He was lawyer to farmers in Bicol and those politically persecuted and charged by the military with acts of rebellion. On December 12, 2006, Atty. Gohol was killed with his driver Danilo France in Gubat, Sorsogon about 200 meters from a detachment of the 22nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. Gohol had just come from a court hearing and was on his way to Sorsogon City when four motorcycle-riding men shot at his van. France was the first to be hit causing the vehicle to stop. Gohol tried to flee from his assailants but bullets hit him in the back and buttocks, causing him to fall on his face. The assailants then approached him and shot him fatally in the head.
Charles Juloya was a human rights lawyer who served as the Legal Adviser of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance, an organization of human rights advocates affiliated with human rights group KARAPATAN. On March 22, 2005, Atty. Juloya parked his car across the road to his law office in La Union, Philippines. As he was about to cross the road on his way to the wake of another victim of human rights violation, an unidentified male fired at him with a caliber .45 pistol. The assailant fired eight consecutive shots, hitting Atty. Juloya twice. One bullet fractured his left foot while another went through his stomach. Fortunately, he survived the attack.