By National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has condemned the snail-paced investigation of the Philippine National Police in the recent killing of a Baler RTC judge.
“It took the police several days to find out what the news outlets had reported on the day of the murder: that Judge Alaba acquitted an alleged NPA leader last year,” said NUPL secretary-general Edre Olalia.
Baler RTC Branch 91 Judge Jude Erwin Alaba, 45, was shot dead last Sept. 1 as he arrived at the regional trial court compound in Baler, Aurora. His wife Margarita, who was with him when he was ambushed, sustained a gunshot wound on her left arm.
The police had recently said they were dropping the New People’s Army (NPA) from their list of suspects. According to news reports, the police had earlier considered the NPA among the suspects because Judge Alaba had tried a case involving Delfin Pimentel, an alleged NPA leader. In that case, however, Alaba acquitted Pimentel, allegedly one of the regional leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA), of charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder, filed in connection with an ambush on the military 15 years ago. This year, Alaba also dismissed the charges of illegal possession of firearms against Pimentel and his wife Imelda.
The police has released a sketch of the suspected killer, and said they have witnesses who have heard alleged gang members discussing a plot to kill Alaba.
Olalia said the ambush – at the parking lot of the Hall of Justice in Baler, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon – highlights the ineptness of the Aquino government in protecting its citizens, much less its hardworking public servants.
“The judiciary is supposed to be one of the partners of government in seeing to it that justice is done. The ineptness with which the police is investigating this case is a clear message to the killers that they can literally get away with murder,” Olalia said.
“Unlike the bogus cases that are often filed against the political prisoners, which are eventually dismissed, we call on the police to prove us wrong by catching for once the real culprits and filing a case that will stand in court.”
Aldaba, a graduate of the UP College of Law, was one of the college’s awardees in public service. The Supreme Court had earlier condemned the killing and asked the authorities to “take all necessary steps with all deliberate speed to do justice for Judge Alaba and his wife by fully investigating the crimes.”
For its part, the NUPL shall do whatever is within its mandate and resources, including bringing this to the attention of international lawyers groups and institutions that are keenly concerned with attacks on lawyers and judges and their adverse effect on the independence of the judiciary and ultimately the so-called rule of law.
Edre U. Olalia
Asst. SecGen for Protection and Welfare of Lawyers
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon City, Philippines
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