SHOULD litigation lawyers now feel safe after the arrest of the suspects in the murder of Atty. Joey Luis Wee by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)? The lawyers for whatever reasons have been the easy target lately of the guns-for-hire. But the arrest of the confessed triggerman gives a sigh of relief to the family of the victim and the legal profession. The NBI-7 lead by Director Rennan Augustus Oliva, a lawyer, deserves deep appreciation for a job well done.

The arrest of the suspects in the murder of Atty. Wee by happenstance also solved the second murder attempt on Atty. Joseph James Gupana on October 10, 2020 somewhere in Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu city. Gupana survived the second ambush while he was driving his motor vehicle on his way to his office in Mandaue City. The first ambush on Gupana few years back was also in Lapu-Lapu City while he was driving on his way home. He was wounded but survived.

Fausto Edgar Benigno Peralta, 55, the gunman, assisted by lawyers, confessed to the murder of Wee to the NBI investigators. He also admitted the ambush of Gupana on October 10, 2020. It may not be surprising to some but I just can't believe that the gunman was a former army soldier and his principal, Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Layese, a retired Army, was a graduate of the PMA, the country's elite military school.

From the admission of Peralta, grudge was the probable reason in the ambush of Gupana and the murder of Wee was because he was "maldito" and had many encounters. I have some suspicions though that Layese could only be the principal contractor, so to speak, of the real mastermind in the killing of Wee or in the ambush of Gupana. Some lawyers who know the cases that Wee and Gupana handled may have some hint now.

The charges for murder were already filed with the regional trial court against Peralta together with John Raymond Suarez, his alleged backup shooter, and Randy Palparan and two John Does. One of the John Does, who is now identified and arrested is Layese. At the moment, Suarez and Palparan are still at large. This is still a cause for caution and I'm sure the NBI is still hunting them down.

On Monday, NBI-7 Director Oliva presented to the press Layese. He said they already have the evidence against Layese's involvement in the murder of Wee even before Peralta's confession. Layese was arrested on the strength of a search warrant issued by RTC Branch 13 Judge Mory Nueva in Fuente Osmeña inside a pick-up truck. Layese will be separately charged with illegal possession of firearm after a .45 caliber pistol with expired licensed and registered to a different person was found in the pick-up truck.

Another case for attempted murder will also be filed against Layese and Peralta in the ambush of Gupana on October 10, 2020 in Lapu-Lapu City, said Director Oliva. Gupana survived the gunshot wounds in that ambush. According to Oliva, there was similar pattern in the ambush of Gupana and the daylight shooting to death of Wee.

Murdering a lawyer for representing a client and how the lawyer may have acted on the case is so extreme and it only aggravates the issue. There are other civil remedies against lawyers who may have crossed the legal boundary and decency and that is disbarment from the legal profession. The disbarment process may take some time but there would be no lives lost and it's even gravely embarrassing for a lawyer to be disbarred for misconduct.