Duterte orders probe into murder of lawyer in Negros Oriental

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered an investigation into the killing of lawyer Anthony Trinidad in Negros Oriental, Malacañang said on Thursday, July 25.

"PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) has already ordered a thorough probe on the incident to determine who these perpetrators are and to ascertain the motive of the ambush," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The Palace also condemned the killing, which was allegedly done by two motorcycle-riding gunmen on Tuesday, July 23. Trinidad's wife suffered injuries from the attack.

"We cannot further stress the atrociousness of the act should it be discovered that the felony is work-related," said Panelo.

"We will prosecute these killers and ensure that they will face the appropriate punishment for such criminal act," he added.

Trinidad's death adds to the growing number of killings of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors in the Philippines under the Duterte presidency. As of May, there have been at least 40 such deaths.

Left-leaning group Defend Negros Network had said that Trinidad was reportedly among the names on a list of an alleged anti-communist group called Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (KAGUBAK). Trinidad had defended political prisoners, according to opposition Senator Leila de Lima. 

He was killed in the same week that 4 police officers were ambushed by the New People's Army. Duterte himself flew into an outrage over the incident, promising P3 million to anyone who would deliver the "head" of the communists involved in the attack.

Back in November 2018, Duterte ordered the deployment of more soldiers and cops in Negros Island, Bicol, and Samar to "suppress lawless violence and acts of terror" perpetrated by communist rebels.(READ: Duterte orders more soldiers, cops in Bicol, Samar, Negros Island– Rappler.com


Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.