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Lawyers condemn paralegal’s murder

By Juan Escandor Jr. GUBAT, Sorsogon --- A group of lawyers condemns the killing of a paralegal worker here who had been shot dead inside a resto bar by two unidentified gunmen on Oct. 25. Lawyer Bart Rayco, chapter president of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in Albay, identified the paralegal worker as Edwin Pura, 49, who worked for NUPL Second Vice President Ron Ely Espinosa. Rayco said Espinosa was also attacked sometime in August this year at his law office in Sorsogon City by armed man who backed off because of the presence of clients and media people. He said Pura was heading to Angie Resto Bar in Barangay Paradijon in this town when he noticed two unidentified men following him. The two men were suspected to be members of the military. Rayco said Pura went inside the bar but the two men caught up with him where he was shot several times. Pura was dead on the spot, Rayco added. He said Pura is the latest victim in the series of extrajudicial killings in Sorsogon under the Duterte administration as noted by the human rights group, Bicol Karapatan. “The killing of Pura is also an attack against Attorney Espinosa considering that it came after the failed attempt to take his life in August,” Rayco said. He said Espinosa learned last year that his name was in the Philippine National Police drug watchlist but the lawyer shrugged off the allegation. Rayco said Espinosa has no drug links and considered his inclusion in the drug watchlist as part of harassment against him because of this job as a human rights lawyer. He said Pura has been working as a paralegal worker to Espinosa for more than a year at the time that he was killed. Both Espinosa and Pura were members of the militant League of Filipino Students (LFS) in Sorsogon when they were still students. Rayco said the two former members of the LFS were also members of the Quick Reaction Team of Karapatan that conducted investigation of missing farmers in Bondoc Peninsula last March. He said Espinosa was the counsel of the family of missing farmers who filed a Writ of Amparo in court aside from human rights cases he handled since 2013. “NUPL believes that the failed attempt to take Espinosa’s life and the killing of Pura is part of the state’s systematic pattern of harassment against its dissenters,” Rayco said. He said that in 2006 human rights lawyer Gil Gogol was also shot dead in this town near a military detachment. “Pura’s killing is on the face of an orchestrated plot after the failed attempt to silence Espinosa and stop him from upholding and defending human rights not only in the cases that he handles but in several forums as well,” Rayco said. He added that the attack against Espinosa and Pura is not only a violation of the sacred right to life but an attack against a lawyer who is merely performing his function and abiding by his oath to defend human rights as a member of the legal profession.

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