Lawyers’, Transport group seek justice to the death of Sorsogon rights worker

By Reynard Magtoto

LEGAZPI CITY – Progressive groups of lawyers and transport denounced the killing of a paralegal worker in Sorsogon as they seek immediate justice saying that the state’s attacks against human rights workers and other activists continue under present administration.

Edwin Pura, 49, was killed by two armed men inside a bar at Barangay Paradijon, Gubat, Sorsogon past twelve in the morning of October 25, 2017.

Pura headed to Angie Resto Bar located at said barangay for security measures when he noticed two unidentified men who are suspected to be members of the military following him.

Wilfredo Bronio, 41, was also killed in the incident while Grace Merilo, 31, a guest relations officer of the bar , who was hit by a stray bullet, was brought to Gubat District Hospital.

Pura is the latest victim in the series of extrajudicial killings in Sorsogon under the Duterte Administration, according to Karapatan Sorsogon.

Pura was the paralegal staff of human rights lawyer Ron Ely Espinosa, who is the second vice president for Luzon of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). Pura was also a former leader of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and a transport leader according to BAYAN-Bicol.

Espinosa and Pura were colleagues and former members of League of Filipino Students – Sorsogon. They were both part of the Quick Reaction Team in search of missing farmers in Bondoc Peninsula, San Andres, Quezon headed by Karapatan sometime in March 2017. Espinosa was the counsel in the Amparo case filed in relation to the missing farmers. Atty. Espinosa, together with Pura, has been handling human rights cases in Sorsogon since 2013.

George San Mateo of PISTON transport group told Baretang Bikolnon that Pura was their organizer in Sorsogon who launched strong transport strikes since 2004.

“It only shows that aside from anti-people and anti-driver, the present regime also kills our transport leader,” said San Mateo looking into the possibility of connection in their concluded 2-day transport strike and ‘harsh’ statements of Duterte.

In a statement, NUPL said that the killing of Pura is also an attack against Atty. Espinosa considering that it follows the failed attempt to take the life of Atty. Espinosa sometime in the last week of August 2017 at his law office in Sorsogon City by an armed man who backed off due to the presence of clients and media in Atty, Espinosa’s office.

“NUPL believes that the failed attempt to take Espinosa’s life and the killing of Pura is part of the state’s systematic pattern of harassment against its dissenters,” said NUPL secretary general Ephraim Cortez who noted that that human rights lawyer Atty. Gil Gogol was shot to death in 2006 near the military detachment in Gubat, Sorsogon.

“This attack against Espinosa and his paralegal is not only a violation of the sacred right to life but an attack against a lawyer who is merely performing his functions and abiding by his oath to defend human rights as a member of the legal profession,” Cortez said.

NUPL still call on the authorities and challenge them to take the appropriate action despite previous unresolved cases of killings.

The progressive groups continue to search for justice and fight for the rights of the people in and outside the courts. ( image from BicolToday)

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