Statement of LRC on the killing of barefoot lawyer Juan Macababbad
Updated: Sep 17, 2021
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) mourns the passing of Atty. Juan “Mac” Macababbad, a human rights lawyer who had fought for the rights of Indigenous peoples and poor farmers against abusive large-scale corporations. According to reports, Atty. Macababbad was assassinated by two unidentified gunmen outside his home in South Cotabato. There is reason to believe that Atty. Macababbad’s killing was likely related to any one of the cases he had handled on behalf of beleaguered communities.
LRC had worked with Atty. Mac and remember him to be a fearless champion of human rights, especially the rights of Indigenous peoples and farmers. He was the first lawyer to visit a remote Indigenous community in South Cotabato to learn of their plight. LRC condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of Atty. Mac.
He had supported communities who stood against the aerial spraying by a banana plantation owned by Sumifru Philippines Corporation, and he had opposed the coal mining application of the David M Consungji, Inc. (DMCI).
Atty. Macababbad was killed right outside the simple hut where he had chosen to live, to remain faithful to his vocation to cater to underserved communities. Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) cases had been filed against him by wealthy corporations, but these only fanned his burning mission to help communities access justice, in a country where the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against them.
He was regional chair of the SOCCSKSARGEN chapter of the Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and vice chair of UPLM-Mindanao. Atty. Macababbad is the 65th lawyer killed under the Duterte administration. This is the most number of lawyers killed under any administration since the time of Ferdinand Marcos, according to a research by Rappler. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had issued a statement condemning the attacks on lawyers and vowed to look into them.