Philippines: Human Rights Lawyer was attacked (attempt murder)Event
- Initial Date
- Mar 3, 2021
- Event Description
A blue and yellow screwdriver was still embedded in the left temple of human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen when paramedics took him to a hospital in Iloilo City following what the largest lawyers’ group in the country on Thursday denounced as a “brazen and bloody assassination attempt.”
The police said the near-fatal stabbing on Wednesday night could have been a botched robbery, but they were looking into other possible motives.
But Guillen’s colleagues and the human rights community believe the assailants had intended to kill the 33-year-old lawyer who has been Red-tagged and represents 16 members of the indigenous Tumandok who were arrested in Capiz and Iloilo provinces on Dec. 30, 2020, for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and for alleged links to communist rebels.
Terror law petitioners At least nine Tumandok were killed in last year’s Rizal Day raids by the military and police on the indigenous group, which opposes a government dam project that they said would inundate their ancestral lands.
The brutal attack follows the Feb. 28 assassination of Barangay Roosevelt Chair Julie Catamin, a key defense witness for the Tumandok represented by Guillen.
Guillen is also a legal counsel in one of the 37 petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act in the Supreme Court.
The young lawyer, whom colleagues describe as soft-spoken and unassuming, also took part in a fact-finding investigation and reported on the coordinated police operations in Negros Oriental in 2019 that led to the deaths of 14 people, mostly farmers.
Rene Estocapio, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers vice president for Visayas, said Guillen was attacked at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday by two men in ski masks who stabbed him in the head and neck as he walked from his car toward his boarding house in Barangay Villa Anita in Iloilo City.
Two other men on two motorcycles arrived moments later and fled with the assailants who took his bag that contained his laptop and some documents, he said.
Doctors on Thursday said he was in stable condition after they removed a 25-centimeter screwdriver from his left temple, a few centimeters of which had been jammed into his skull by one of the assailants.
At the hospital, Guillen told a friend on Thursday that he ran when he saw two men going after him. He said the men stabbed him repeatedly after he tripped, according to his friend who spoke with the Inquirer.
Guillen heard one of the assailants shout, “Get the bag!” before they fled, his friend said, adding that the men did not get his wallet, cell phone and other valuables.
Pro bono cases In a statement, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said it “condemns the brazen and bloody assassination attempt on human rights, public interest, and indigenous peoples lawyer Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen.”
IBP national president Domingo Egon Cayosa said Guillen handled “pro bono cases for the poor and the marginalized” and had been “Red-tagged and threatened many times.” “Inflicting violence on those who seek justice is criminality in the highest degree,” Cayosa said.
He pointed to “the primary role of government to secure its citizens and its international obligation to ensure that lawyers can do their job without fear, harassment or retribution.”
Police Maj. Mark Evan Salvo, chief of the Iloilo City Police Station 1, said that based on an initial investigation, robbery could have been the the motive for the attack.
But he said they were also looking at the possibility that it was work-related because the lawyer’s laptop and files were taken.
“We still need to talk with [Guillen] to determine what was taken and the cases that he is handling,” Salvo told the Inquirer.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he was “very much alarmed” about the attack and decried that it took place just half a kilometer from the Iloilo City Police Office.
“Lawyers only do their function to protect their clients. As a lawyer myself, this is doubly important for me to be solved,” Treñas said in a statement.
He called on the Philippine National Police “to do everything possible to resolve this at the earliest possible time.”
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Violence (physical)
- Wounds and Injuries
- Rights Concerned
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Suspected state
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On March 3, human rights lawyer was stabbed with a screw driver on his lower left temple and back by two unidentified assailants in Iloilo City, the Philippines