Another slain prosecutor becomes 10th killed since 2016

June 5, 2018 - 3:06 PM
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Killing of lawyer Ben Ramos
Lawyer Ben Ramos was shot in Kabangkalan, Negros Occidental. He provided legal assistance to the families of the victims of the Sagay Massacre. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

The fatal stabbing of Office of the Ombudsman Assistant Special Prosecutor Madonna Joy Ednaco-Tanyag, who was five months pregnant, has shocked the nation. Fueling the public’s grief and anger is the memory of the prosecutors slain in recent years.

A shocking killing

Tanyag 32, was found lying by her car with four stab wounds after purchasing milk tea along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City on the morning of June 4, 2018.

She was rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center but passed away.

Authorities have apprehended a suspect: Angelo Galvez Avenido, who was found possessing items belonging to the victim.

While the suspect is set to be charged with robbery with homicide, a Facebook post by Tanyag’s widower Cris revealed that Tanyag had been working on a graft and corruption case a month before she was killed.

Tanyag is the second incumbent fiscal killed in 2018 and tenth since 2016.

Just a few weeks before Tanyag’s killing, former prosecutor Geronimo Marabe Jr. was killed after being ambushed by four assailants in Misamis Occidental.

And two weeks before Marabe’s murder was the fatal shooting of Quezon City deputy prosecutor Rogelio Velasco, who was shot in his vehicle with his daughter beside him.

Some have taken note of the disturbing frequency of attacks on officials.

The first fiscal to be slain under the Duterte administration was Rolando Acibal, a stroke survivor who was gunned down in Mati, Davao Oriental, in 2016.

The slew of killing has affected the morale of some members of the legal profession. In 2017, The Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Surigao del Norte chapter decided to drop drug cases after the killing of former judge Victor Canoy and foiled killing of prosecutor Manuel Tesioma.

Taking steps

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines in February 2018 formed a task force to investigate the string of attacks on lawyers in recent years, responding to the killing of Jonah John Ungab, vice mayor of the town of Ronda in Cebu and a lawyer of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and the attempted killing of labor lawyer Argel Cabatbat.

Some have even pushed for arming prosecutors for self-defense.

According to reports in May 2018, National Prosecution Service chief Jorge Catalan has recommended arming prosecutors and training them in self-defense.

Justice secretary Guevara and Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde have concurred with Catalan’s proposal.