One more dead, can’t afford another
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) mourns the passing of one of its members, lawyer Rodolfo R. Felicio, even as it expresses its outrage at how he was mercilessly shot to death by lawless elements on Aug. 24, at Floodway, Taytay, Rizal, while he was with his clients. As of this writing, the authorities have yet to ascertain the identity of the suspect or suspects but are considering his active involvement in a land dispute as a possible motive for the killing. This early, nonetheless, it is clear that he was killed while in the performance of his duties as a lawyer.
Felicio was an active member of NUPL-Rizal Chapter. A true peoples’ lawyer and a jolly good fellow, he was always quick and ready to respond to calls for legal assistance and was, in fact, a reliable hand for the Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) that NUPL human rights group Karapatan-Rizal sent out to address human rights cases. He was also part of the private prosecution team in the Olalia-Alay-ay double murder case.
Felicio was a graduate of University of San Carlos in Cebu and, prior to being a solo practitioner in the Rizal area, worked for the Commission on Human Rights. His killing is particularly a tremendous loss to the people of Rizal, his family, friends and relatives, to us fellow peoples’ lawyers, and to the legal profession in general. As aptly remembered by a friend and colleague in peoples’ lawyering, lawyer Ming Saladero, “Si Atty. Felicio ay palatawa, palabiro at masipag siya sa pag QRT sa mga hinuhuli. Siya ay katuwang ng Karapatan-Rizal. Malaking kawalan sa amin ang pagpanaw niya hindi lamang sa HR [human rights cause] kundi pati bilang kaibigan.”
For the nth time, we call on government to solve with dispatch the rising incidence of murder targeting lawyers and other human rights defenders, and brazenly perpetrated with impunity. We also seek the help of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (L4L) in seeking justice for our slain colleague.
Our ranks have already lost five to extrajudicial killings in a decade, and many of us have been subjected to various forms of attacks ranging from surveillance to labeling, to intimidation, harassment and threats, to false and nuisance charges, and to discrimination.
We have lost too many and cannot afford to lose yet another in the hands of those who show no respect for the law and no regard whatsoever for life. As we remember those who have died in the line of fire, we must protect those who are left standing, especially those who are one with the people in their causes, standing by their principles though weather-beaten and under attack. We shall carry on, Rudy.
—REMIGIO SALADERO, president,
MARIA CRISTINA YAMBOT-TANSECO,
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-
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