Lawyers groups condemn murder of prosecutor

Jun. 18, 2024

DAVAO CITY, Philippines –A government prosecutor’s murder last week was condemned by lawyers’ group as a continuing impunity that imperils the law community.

Last June 10, on Monday, Davao Occidental Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Eleanor Dela Peña was shot dead around 5 pm when she was driving to her home in Barangay Aplaya, Digos City.

Police identified the suspect as Dela Peña’s half-brother, Arnel Galot Dela Peña, who was identified by witnesses including the prosecutor’s son and through CCTV footage.

The suspect was arrested four hours after the incident who was found in the highway of Barangay Talas, Sulop.

Authorities said they identified the suspect from the description of witnesses including the victim’s son and from a CCTV footage.

They said the motive of the murder was a land dispute.

Dela Peña was a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao City Chapter in 2019.

The Davao City IBP Chapter released a statement condemning the murder of their former president.

“The heinous act of violence against a dedicated public servant and a former president of the chapter not only shocked our legal community but also undermined the very foundations of justice and the rule of law that Prosecutor Dela Peña tirelessly upheld throughout her career,” their statement read.

The National Prosecution Service Region 11 grieved over the loss of their fellow public lawyer.

“As we grapple with this senseless loss, let us remember Mommy Ning’s bravery, passion and unwavering resolve in the face of adversity.  (her) sacrifice serves as a stark reminder of the dangers inherent in the pursuit of justice, yet it also reinforces our commitment to upholding the rule of law,” their statement read.

Statements from IBP chapters in Davao del Sur and Eastern Mindanao call upon law enforcers to ensure justice for the prosecutor, and assured their support to the case.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers noted that under Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s presidency, there had been 43 recorded incidents of attacks on lawyers, including six attempted killings and Dela Peña’s murder.

“We are outraged that the question, “When will these attacks on members of the legal profession end?” remains merely theoretical… The killings of lawyers have created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among members of the bar.  When perpetrators are not held accountable, the threat of violence discourages lawyers from taking on certain professional duties and hinders their ability to carry out their responsibilities effectively,” NUPL’s statement said.

A joint statement from the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) Southern Mindanao calls the killing “an affront to the entire legal community and a brazen desecration of the fundamental principles of justice she upheld.”

The groups call on the government to take action on the impunity towards members of the law community.

“We call upon the Marcos Jr administration to take decisive action to end the senseless acts of violence and impunity and to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”  

Dela Peña’s funeral and burial last weekend was attended by colleagues and classmates. She was 54.(

comments powered by Disqus