Date: 26 August 2021
By EMILY VITAL
MANILA — Human rights lawyer Rex JMA Fernandez was ambushed by a lone assailant this afternoon August 26 in Good Shepherd Road, Banawa, Cebu City. He was 64.
According to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)’s count, Fernandez is the 57th in the list of lawyers and judges killed under the Duterte administration.
As a former legal counsel of human rights group Karapatan, Fernandez also took on cases of human rights victims filed military officials, including that of torture survivor Raymond Manalo against former Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.
In a statement, NUPL President Edre Olalia condemned the incident. “No words, indeed. Another colleague has fallen with his boots on. We had lost count. It has not stopped and every lawyer is a sitting duck,”
He described Fernandez as “passionate, intense and brave, even as he was unique in many ways.”
Olalia said that even after Fernandez became inactive in NUPL, he continued to collaborate with fellow human rights lawyers in public interest cases.
Fernandez, founding member of the NUPL, handled the case of the Carbon vendors against the Carbon modernization project of Megawide Construction Corp, according to alternative media group Aninaw Productions. He also served as one of the lawyers of Cebu 8, or the protesters and bystanders arrested during a protest against the Anti-Terror bill on June 5, 2020.
Recently, Fernandez also figured in a dispute with condominium owner over water supply.
“Before he was silenced, he castigated the present administration which he had hitherto placed his sincere hope on would bring change,” Olalia said. “He died disillusioned that it was not meant to be.”
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Cebu chapter also denounced the killing. “An attack on our brother-lawyer for case-related motives is an attack on the justice system and the rule of law we promised to protect,” the group said.
IBP-Cebu called on the authorities to investigate the incident promptly and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Lawyers groups have been calling on the Supreme Court to act on the rising cases of extrajudicial killings and threats against the officers of the court.