Statement of the Commission on Human Rights condemning the attack on the Abra Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights condemning the attack on the Abra Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemns the violent attack against Atty. Hamilcar Bigornia, Abra Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, on 29 January 2023 inside his law office. His aide was also repeatedly stabbed during the incident.

Both Atty. Bigornia and his aide survived the attack.

CHR remains vigilant against any threats to the life, security, as well as other rights of those in the legal profession that may be imperiled.

In line with our mandate as the country’s independent human rights institution, our regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region is conducting a motu proprio investigation in aid of the pursuit of truth and accountability.

At the same time, we join the call of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, and other law enforcement agencies to investigate this case, as well as other resolved instances documented in the past.

CHR notes that threat, intimidation, and the many forms of violence experienced by lawyers, judges, and all those in the legal profession has been a continuing concern by the UN Human Rights Office and, recently, a subject of the recommendations that other UN Member States asked the Government of the Philippines to address during the country’s Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in November 2022.

Lawyers, judges, and all those in the legal profession are vital in administering justice, finding the truth, and protecting human rights. When lawyers are targeted, the rule of law is similarly under threat, which runs the risk of impunity persisting.

CHR is ready and willing to coordinate with the government to improve the protection of lawyers in the country, as well as other human rights defenders, to the benefit of the nation’s weak, vulnerable, and marginalised. ###