PNP disrespects, doubts slain rights defenders

By Reynard Magtoto

LEGAZPI CITY – Despite condemnations and sympathy from various groups both progressive and government, Philippine National Police (PNP) disrespected the tribute and questioned the identities of three activists killed in Sorsogon and Camarines Sur.

Former Popular Campaigns Committee head of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) -Bicol, Nephtali Morada, was gunned down along the road in Barangay San Isidro, Naga City on June 17, on his way to work.

While on June 15, two human rights workers were killed close range by two unidentified gunmen along the road of Phase 2, Seabreeze Homes Subdivision, barangay Cabid-an in Sorsogon province. The victims were Ryan Hubilla, a senior high school student and Karapatan Sorsogon staff, and Nelly Bagasala of Sorsogon Peoples’ Organization, a network of Karapatan Sorsogon.

During a press briefing in Manila yesterday, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde raised doubts that rights group Karapatan and militant group Bayan might be taking advantage of the situation to put the blame to state forces.

“….They are saying na ito ay member. You know, these people, they take advantage of almost everything. Kaya kailangan nila i-prove kung talagang member nila yan,” Albayalde told reporters.

Sorsogon Provincial Police Headquarters even blasted loud music yesterday to counter the protesters demanding justice to the murdered human rights workers. The remains of killed two rights defenders were brought during protest action in Sorsogon City in front of Camp Escudero to pay tribute.

In the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) advisory, Regional Director Atty. Arlene Alangco urge the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to comply with their state obligation to serve and protect.

“We likewise urge them for an effective investigation leading to the arrest and accountability of the perpetrators, so that appropriate legal remedies and access to justice may be achieved by the family of the victims,” the advisory stated.

However Albayalde stressed the PNP will not necessarily focus on investigating the cases and they have other incidents that they have to focus on.

Whatever motive the killers may have, CHR said killing violated the victims’ right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 3.

The Philippines was one of the 48 countries that voted in favor of the declaration during its adoption on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The declaration affirmed an individual’s rights.

Progressive groups believe the PNP and AFP are behind the killings of activists under Oplan Kapanatagan, MO 32 and EO 70. (

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