THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) national chapter has passed a resolution creating a task force to investigate, document and provide support for the prosecution of cases involving members of the Bar.

Lawyer Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, IBP national president, visited the wake of slain lawyer Jonah John Ungab and told the latter’s family members about the task force.

“The apparent continued attacks on the members of the Bar, none of which had been successfully resolved or prosecuted, create an impression of impunity, wherein State forces appear indifferent and helpless, or, worse, in one case, even involved in such violent assaults,” the resolution read.

Ungab, also the vice mayor of Ronda, Cebu, was gunned down by two unidentified persons around noon on Feb.19 in front of the Cebu City Hall of Justice where he attended the promulgation of a case of his client, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. He was the second lawyer of the Espinosas who was shot dead.

Investigation is still ongoing. The family has appealed for more witnesses to speak up. They will bury the vice mayor in his hometown today.

Stuck in red tape

In the resolution, the IBP cited a rise in the number of cases of lawyers, prosecutors and even judges being murdered or killed through violent and treacherous means.

In the ambush of lawyer Argel Cabatbat last Feb. 13 in Quezon City, one of the perpetrators was a policeman.

The investigation of these cases has remained open-ended or unresolved, while none of these cases have been prosecuted before the courts of justice, the IBP said.

“This impression of impunity, in turn, creates a chilling effect on members of the Bar, who, in the discharge of the solemn duties as officers of the court and guardians of the Rule of Law, are placed under a serious, grave and imminent threat to their life and family,” the IBP said.

According to the group, there is of paramount need for these cases to be duly investigated, documented and prosecuted, and the perpetrators to be exposed, convicted and penalized in accordance with law.

The IBP Task Force will be composed of a chairman and four Bar members with proven probity, independence and competence. (GMD)