Atty. Juan Macababbad was shot seven times in the head by two unidentified gunmen outside his home in Surallah, South Cotabato at 5:30 p.m. today, September 15, 2021, according to initial reports.
Macababbad was Vice Chairperson of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) that has been red-tagged by the government.
“He was silent, unassuming & amiable guy who had a ready smile behind his rather fatherly bespectacled profile. We are losing the good guys out there while the bad guys are frolicking and plundering all over,” said NUPL President Atty. Edre Olalia.
Macababbad was the third member of the NUPL slain under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. By NUPL’s count, Macababbad was also the 58th lawyer slain under Duterte.
“Atty. Macababbad served as legal counsel to indigenous peoples, teachers and community members in the SOCSKSARGEN. He joined several fact finding missions, including the fact finding mission on the massacre of indigenous peoples leaders in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. He likewise lawyered for political prisoners in the region,” said human rights group Karapatan.
Macababbad served as the legal counsel of the Lumad victims in the 2017 Lake Sebu massacre. Karapatan has documented 25 incidents of massacres under the Duterte administration resulting in the killing of 121 individuals, the latest was the second massacre in Lianga.
Karapatan deplored the killing of Macababbad and said the slain lawyer received death threats before his murder, purportedly due to his staunch human rights advocacy.
“While the case may go through the usual investigation, as with the growing number of unresolved cases, it is clear that the murder of Atty. Macababbad is connected to his vocation of lawyering for the people,” said UPLM Chairperson Antonio C. Azarcon in a statement.
Various groups called for investigations and demanded justice for the killing of Macababbad.