Make courtrooms safer, judges appeal

JUDGES in the Cebu City Hall of Justice want Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to provide for more in-house security personnel and will let her know in a meeting today.

Cebu City Executive Judge Gilbert Moises said that the courthouse’s security personnel and consultants of Qimonda IT Center, the building which houses the courtrooms, will meet to discuss new security protocols.

“I hope law enforcement would bring the culprits to justice,” said Judge Moises, referring to the ambush before noon last Monday on lawyer and Ronda Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab.

Ungab had just driven out of the complex with his wife Pearl when a man shot him twice in the head, then fled on a motorcycle another man was driving.

“That act must be condemned, for the lawyer was just doing his job, which he had sworn to do,” Judge Moises said.

Interviewed separately, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he was bothered by the attack.

Like pros

He said it appeared to have been done by professional killers.

“I’m concerned because something like that shows that those killers have no fear of the law. It appears that the shooting was done by cold-blooded killers, and that’s what bothers me,” the mayor said. He said he had never met Ungab.

Osmeña added he has no special orders for the police, since they already know what to do in solving a crime.

Several groups have condemned the attack and appealed to the authorities to find the killers, hold them accountable, and figure out what motivated the attack on Ungab, 44.

“His killers were riding a motorcycle in tandem, the same modus operandi of other victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK). Unlike the other EJK victims, he was a lawyer of an alleged drug lord,” said Cebu for Human Rights.

They believe Ungab’s killing was meant to send a message to lawyers not to defend those accused of drug violations.

“In the current situation where the government is waging a drug war, people brand lawyers as drug lords, too,” the group said. “Atty. Ungab did not deserve to die. He did not commit any crime by defending an alleged drug lord. He was just doing his job as a lawyer.”

The Young Lawyers’ Association of Cebu, Inc., of which Ungab was an active member, said that the Ronda vice mayor was one of about 200 lawyers who had signed a petition against extra-judicial killings last July 30, 2016.

“Indeed, his loss in the hands of these cowardly perpetrators who have no knack for fair play and justice is a big slap to all lawyers who, as officers of the court, adhere to the dispensation of justice,” read the group’s statement.

They called on colleagues “to unite and overcome this latest threat to our human rights.”

On social media, the hash tags #JusticeforAttyJohnUngab #StopEJK are being used by those demanding justice for Ungab or simply commenting on the case. (GMD With RVC)