THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) will create a P25 million Lawyers Security and Justice Fund to encourage and provide support to witnesses in the killings of lawyers in the country.
IBP national president Domingo Egon Cayosa stressed the need to lure witnesses to come out and share vital information with police investigators as he cited the recent killing by unidentified gunmen of lawyer Bayani Dalangin in Talavera, Nueva Ecija.
“We are establishing a P25 million Lawyers Security and Justice Fund to reward and support crucial witnesses in the successful prosecution of the murderers of lawyers,” Cayosa said.
He said the reward will come on top of the free legal aid that the IBP gives to the families and loved ones of slain lawyers as well as the witnesses.
Records from the National Union of People’s Lawyers indicate that Dalangin was the 48th lawyer to be killed in the country since 2016. This is a big spike in the number of lawyers killed during the previous administrations when 41 were recorded from 2001 to 2014.
Also yesterday, the IBP inked a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine National Police seeking to improve relations between law enforcers and legal practitioners.
“Similar collaborations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigations are being pursued,” Cayosa said.
Under the memorandum, the IBP shall provide training to improve the legal knowledge and skills of police personnel as well as establish and manage an appropriate incentive or reward program to encourage informants and witnesses who are key to the successful prosecution of cases.
On the other hand, the PNP will help train and enhance the knowledge and skills of lawyers in security, personal defense and gun use, as well as assist and facilitate the lawyers’ application for license to own and license to carry firearms outside of their residences.
The PNP will also provide security and assistance to lawyers, prosecutors and judges in case of threats in the performance of their duties.
Cayosa has said there is a need for a reward system to encourage witnesses and whistleblowers to come out in the open and cooperate with authorities in identifying the killers of lawyers, prosecutors and judges.