Lawyers may carry firearms for their protection against would-be attackers, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Sunday in reaction to violent incidents in the past victimizing those in the legal profession.
Guevarra said that aside from the fact that no law prohibits lawyers from arming themselves, the nature of their job exposes them to danger.
With this, Guevarra said the government may even help lawyers in expediting the issuance to them of a license to possess and a permit to carry firearms.
“If they wish to arm themselves, there’s no problem with that. The government may even help facilitate the issuance of appropriate permits,” he added.
Guevarra said he finds the recent spate of attacks on lawyers alarming, including that which was carried out on Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, a petitioner against the Anti-Terror Law, who was stabbed recently.
He said lawyers must do everything to ensure their personal safety amid threats to their lives, including collaborating with the police and other law enforcement agencies.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) chief also urged lawyers to talk to their associations, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to see what measures they can take to minimize threats.
Guevarra assured the NBI will be relentless in resolving cases victimizing lawyers. The DoJ has already inventoried cases with lawyers as victims.
Meanwhile, Guevarra said the request of an intelligence police officer for a list of lawyers representing militant groups was “out of line and bereft of any statutory or legal basis.”
He pointed out that lawyers are professionals and are not directly or personally involved in the cases that they represent.
Guevarra said the DoJ has no authority to interfere with police intelligence-gathering but that it will oppose and call out any such activity if it violates laws or policies or endangers persons, including lawyers.
A Calbayog police officer had made the request from a court for the list of lawyers representing communist rebels, a move which Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said was unwarranted.
Eleazar on Saturday ordered the relief of the said policeman, P/Lt. Fernando Calabria, while an investigation as to who ordered him to secure the list is being undertaken.