Monday, September 21, 2009

Noted Davao Lawyer Tells Victims of Violence To Seek Justice

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A noted Filipino lawyer in the southern Philippine city of Davao has called on victims of violence and injustice to have the courage and come out in the open.

Nograles, son and chief of staff of House Speaker Prospero Nograles, made the calls during his weekend radio program called “Kalamboan Dala Tanan,” to put an end to the pervading “culture of violence and abuse” in Davao City.

Extrajudicial killings are common in Davao City and hundreds had been murdered so far the past years and many of these cases remain unresolved. Many of the killings were blamed to the so-called Davao Death Squad, a shadowy armed group.

The young Nograles said the families of victims of extrajudicial killings and violence could seek assistance to government agencies, nongovernmental agencies or the Church to seek justice.

He suggested that police conduct a thorough investigation and match confiscated guns to evidences retrieved from murder scenes involving the death squad. “For all we know, one or more of these confiscated firearms were used in many unsolved killings,” Nograles said.

Hundreds of guns were seized by police and military in a campaign against illegal weapons in recent years. And Nograles said ballistic tests on those weapons could establish whether or not the guns were directly linked to the killings that already affected Davao City’s tourism, the peace and order and caused a worldwide embarrassment and fears among investors.

He said the issue on Davao City killings was among the topics raised during the recent visit of Speaker Nograles in the United States where he met President Barrack Obama and his counterpart, Senator Nancy Pelosi.

The issue of summary killings in Davao City was also the subject in the recent ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Thailand where Speaker Nograles represented the Philippines.

“It cannot be denied that these killings have brought Davao more harm than good,” the young lawyer said, adding, some victims were killed due to reasons other than peace and order.

He lamented that no suspect was arrested, including those behind the killings of journalists Jun Pala, who was gunned down in 2003, and Ferdinand Lintuan, shot in 2007 in Davao City.

Last week, a widow of one of six murder victims in Davao City, Belinda Palmero, said she does not expect to get justice just like the many other victims of the Davao Death Squad.

Appearing on a local television show, Palmero said the killing of her husband, had left them with no one to fend for the family.

Nograles told the woman not to lose hope. “Many people and organizations are willing to help families of victims of extrajudicial killings to end the violence and abuses,” the lawyer assured.

Acknowledging fears that some of the killings could be “state-sponsored,” Nograles said victims could go to nongovernmental organizations like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for legal help, or Church groups that offer spiritual counseling.

“It is necessary for us to find the courage,” the lawyer said, adding, he and his father and their group are willing to help those who need legal assistance.

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