Police eye persons of interest in killing of Cebu lawyer

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There are persons of interest in the killing of lawyer Joey Luis Wee in Cebu City, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Debold Sinas said Wednesday. (FILE PHOTO)

Quezon City (CNN Philippines, November 25) — There are persons of interest in the killing of lawyer Joey Luis Wee in Cebu City, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Debold Sinas said Wednesday.

Sinas did not name names and only said Wee's death on Monday was job-related.

"Ongoing ang investigation. We have persons of interest," Sinas said in an ambush interview in Camp Karingal, Quezon City. "Hindi ko muna sabihin baka ma-preempt ang investigation."

[Translation: The investigation is ongoing. We have persons of interest. I won't yet say who so as not to preempt the investigation.]

On November 17, lawyer Eric Jay Magcamit was also shot dead on his way to a hearing in Palawan province.

Sinas said he spoke with Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Domingo Cayosa about the killings.

"Nag-umpisa 'yan doon sa Palawan," he said. "So we have already informed him at medyo solved na 'yun at may arestado na at may person of interest, at 'yun naman ay related sa trabaho nila."

[Translation: The one that happened in Palawan, we have already informed him, and it is already partly solved with a person of interest. It is also job-related.]

The IBP said more than 50 lawyers were killed under the Duterte administration.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation is also probing the killings.

"The government is very much concerned about the increasing number of crimes committed against lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, and while these are generally considered to be part of the hazards of the profession, the government is committed to bring the perpetrators of these crimes before the bar of justice," he said.

Report the threats

Sinas is asking lawyers receiving death threats to immediately report these to the police.

"Hindi dapat sila mag-take chances sa safety nila," Sinas said. "Kasi hindi naman namin sila oras-oras mababantayan lalo na 'pag hindi nila sabihin ang threat sa buhay nila. Dapat sabihin din nila sa amin para ma-protektahan namin sila."

[Translation: They should not take chances about their safety because we cannot guard them every hour especially if they do not report that their life is under threat. They should report so we can protect them.]

He also offered to ease the process of getting gun licenses for lawyers.

"Gaya ng easy access ng LTOPF (license to own and possess firearms), saka permit to carry (firearms) para kung gusto ng mga abogado natin na miyembro ng IBP, kung gusto nila bumili ng baril para sa proteksyon. Basta sumunod lang sila sa iba't ibang direktiba," said the PNP chief.

[Translation: (It is) just like the LTOPF, and permit to carry, in case the IBP lawyers want to buy guns for their protection, as long as they follow directives.]

Missing lawyer

Meanwhile, on the supposed missing lawyer Ryan Oliva, who is also a legislative liaison officer of the Tourism department, Sinas said they have yet to receive a report on the matter.

He suggests to the family to report the incident to the police.

"Hintayin natin ang pamilya na maghingi ng tulong para maimbestigahan natin properly," he said. "May procedures din tayo kung ilang oras bago natin i-declare na missing. Sundin lang po natin 'yun."

[Translation: We will wait for the family to seek help so we can investigate properly. We have procedures on the number of hours required before we declare a person missing. Let us just follow that.]