Surigao lawyers reject handling drug cases

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — Drug suspects in Surigao del Norte may find themselves without lawyers after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Surigao City Chapter decided to desist from representing them in all courts of the province.

In a press statement released Tuesday, lawyers as well as judges and prosecutors belonging to the group said they came up with the decision after the killing of retired Regional Trial Court judge Victor A. Canoy and the slay attempt on City Prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna.

Canoy was shot to death by assailants aboard a motorcycle on February 2 along Borja Street while Tesiorna survived an attempt on his life also by motorcycle-riding gunmen just outside his house in Barangay Canlanipa this city on Monday morning.

Tesiorna sustained four gunshot wounds in different parts of his body. On Tuesday morning, he was airlifted to Cebu City for further treatment.

Atty. Noel Pangilinan, president of the IBP-Surigao del Norte Chapter told MindaNews on Tuesday via telephone that some of their members had earlier withdrawn from handling drug cases.

Pangilanan said they will hold a motorcade and rally on Thursday, February 9, from the IBP Building in Parola to the Surigao City Freedom Park where they will hold a program.

“This rally will amplify our rage at the pointless violence targeting our colleagues in the legal profession. These attacks are against the very foundation of the profession and the institution, to defend the accused and the accuser alike,” the statement said.

“As officers of the Court, we reiterate our commitment to ensure that all citizens must be accorded due process under the law,” it added.

“We are protesting the shallow understanding of the legal process, which prompted the accusation of our colleagues as alleged drug coddlers and protectors because of the drug cases that have been dismissed in their respective offices. We withdraw our representation from all drug cases staring today until all perpetrators are apprehended. We will not be able to do out jobs if our lives and the lives of our families are in peril,” it said.

“We call upon all Filipinos to echo our sentiments to the Supreme Court, to our Legislature, and to our President,” it said.

“We seek justice for Retired Judge Victor Canoy and City Prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna.
Stop killing lawyers. Let us do our jobs as defenders of rights and due process,” it added.

Sr. Supt. Anthony Maghari, director of Surigao del Norte Police Provincial Office told MindaNews in a phone interview on Tuesday that they have identified “persons of interest” in relation to the killing of Canoy and the slay attempt on Tesiorna.

“We are still conducting thorough investigations of these cases,” he said.

Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas has condemned the attacks.

Matugas said on RPN-DXKS on Tuesday that he was proven right when in 2014 he asked lawyers to desist from handling drug cases. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews