IBP rallies judicial sector to act faster on cases of killing of lawyers, judges

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) welcomed the vow of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to help protect lawyers and judges amid the rise of violence against them, and called on legal practitioners to do their part in speeding up the litigation of these cases. “Lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and all workers in the justice sector can and should do so much to deliver justice a lot faster. Only when the evil-doers are swiftly and surely held accountable that the criminals fear the law and respect the rights of others,” the IBP, the official organization of Philippine lawyers, said in its statement on Wednesday. “While we vigorously pushback against any threat, violence, or disregard of due process, we will move forward and focus on what we can do to deliver ‘Justice Bilis’ (swift justice),” it added. In a mobile message on Wednesday, IBP President Domingo Egon Q. Cayosa explained that Justice Bilis is “a campaign and major program of our leadership and the 24th IBP Board” aimed at resolving cases much faster by improving technology in the Supreme Court to be able to conduct hearings via videoconferencing. Meanwhile, eight senators who are also lawyers filed a resolution on Wednesday condemning the spate of killings of lawyers and added their voice to those calling on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to take “necessary steps” to ensure the safety of members of the legal profession. The resolution was filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, Senators Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Pia S. Cayetano, Leila M. de Lima, Richard J. Gordon, Francisco N. Pangilinan, Aquilino L. Pimentel III, and Francisco N. Tolentino. They noted that the 54 lawyers had been killed since 2016 and only five cases have reached the courts, citing data from the Department of Justice. The Free Legal Assistance Group reported 100 lawyers who have been killed in the last 20 years. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

House panel approves consolidated bills on better health crisis response

A House of Representatives panel on Wednesday approved the proposed law that will strengthen the country’s response to public health crises. The House committee on appropriations approved the substitute bill consolidating 14 related measures that aim to boost the management of public health emergencies. Quezon Representative Angelina “Helen” DL Tan said during the hearing that the country has a long way to go before it can effectively implement International Health Regulations crafted by the World Health Organization for controlling the global spread of diseases. “The bills aim to establish a health security national action plan and strengthen institutional capacity to prevent diseases prevention, surveillance, control, and response systems and implement contingency plans to deal with public health events,” she said.

In the upper chamber, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel on Wednesday called for the inclusion of coronavirus infection among the occupational diseases that workers can avail insurance for under the government’s compensation program for employees. She urged the Department of Labor and Employment and Employees Compensation Commission to declare COVID-19 as an occupational disease under the Employees Compensation Act and Employees Compensation Program. Ms. Hontiveros said workers are at high risk offices, factories, and mass transportation are the new “hot spots” of virus transmission. “Employees should not be burdened with proving that they contracted the virus from work, because traveling between home and the workplace via public transport is in itself a work-related sacrifice that our workers make,” she said in Filipino. — Gillian M. Cortez and Vann Marlo M. Villegas