DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 July) – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Davao City chapter said the killing of lawyer Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Muhaimin outside their residence at the Solariega, a gated subdivision in Barangay Talomo on July 13, is a “derogation of the rule of law.”
In a statement on Thursday, the lawyers’ group condemned the killings and urged the police and other law enforcement agencies to investigate the twin murders and bring to justice those responsible for their deaths.
“Every life is sacred and should be respected. The attempt to take any life will never be tolerated in a civilized society,” the IBP-Davao said.
The group called on government to secure its citizens and ensure the safety of lawyers and those involved in the administration of justice to allow them to perform their duties without fear, harassment, and retribution.
Atty. Sapie, who used to work in the Department of Agrarian Reform, was known for defending agrarian reform beneficiaries. She became a lawyer in 2018.
She was arrested in her residence on June 29, 2019 for alleged illegal possession of firearms – one Beretta 9 mm, one magazine with 14 bullets and two holsters — and was released on bail two days later. But she denied the allegations and claimed she was being harassed for defending the rights of farmers.
MindaNews sought Col. Kirby Kraft, director of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) on the progress of the investigation and the possible suspects behind the killings but he has yet to respond.
But in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday, Kraft said investigators were looking at “personal grudge” as the possible motive for their killing as the couple dealt with several land disputes.
The couple hosted the “Justice Reedemer,” an online free legal advice program, tackling “general legal issues” and an opinion-oriented political program, which is also aired over 94.7 Power Radio Davao (DXLL).
On the CCTV footage released by Newsline.ph last July 15, Atty. Sapie was seen walking outside their residence after their program Wednesday, accompanied by her bodyguards, when she suddenly fell to her knees after being shot by a still unknown gunman. Atty. Sapie’s husband rushed outside to attend to his wife but was also shot while embracing her.
Kraft said it was possible that the couple was shot by a “sniper” since none of the people, including the bodyguards and friends, who were with them at the time of the incident could pinpoint the location of the suspects.
He said they were still gathering evidence, including the CCTV footage of the houses within the subdivision, to determine the possible suspects.
He said the security guards of the exclusive subdivision did not keep a logbook of the visitors entering the subdivision aside from being asked to surrender their IDs, which would be returned to owners upon leaving. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)