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Kin of drug war victims find it difficult to seek legal counsels

By Ben Serrano,
BUTUAN City — Family members and relatives of victims of the alleged excesses of the anti-illegal drugs campaign in Caraga region have expressed concern over who would represent them in court after a group of lawyers here decided not to handle and appear on drugelated cases.

It can be recalled that members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Surigao del Norte have decided to drop all drugelated cases after gunmen attacked Surigao City Prosecutor Manuel Navarro Tesiorna on Feb. 6 outside his home. Four days after, retired judge Victor Canoy was shot dead also in Surigao City.

IBP-Surigao del Norte president Noel Pangilinan told Gold Star Daily two of their members have dropped the drug cases they were handling after they received death threats and one of them has reportedly been included in the narcotics watch list of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Judges and prosecutors who were also allegedly included in the narco-list are now afraid to report to duty because they fear (they would be next in the kill list),” Pangilinan said.

The boycott of IBP Surigao de Norte have affected other lawyers in Caraga Region. Relatives of victims of alleged planting of evidence, illegal arrests, and illegal searches here, Bayugan City, and nearby provinces in the region are finding it hard to hire lawyers to represent them in court – allegedly lawyers are not accepting any cases involving drugs.

Fatimah Imam, wife of Barangay Chairman Marco Imam of Barangay New Society, this city said it has been difficult in finding a lawyer in the city to represent them.

On March 2, at around 7:20 am, a group of law enforcers composed mostly of drug enforcement agents, armed with a search warrant, raided the house of Imam. The raid ended up with a commotion after the operatives arrested a barangay kagawad they chose to represent the barangay in the raid for obstruction of justice.

Barangay Kagawad Aubry Cedeño claimed in a radio interview that she went hysterical after seeing an agent plant evidence in Imam’s house.


About Ben Serrano

Ben Serrano covers Caraga for The Gold Star Daily, and is based in Butuan City.

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