7 partylist lawmakers slam slay of Escalante councilor, call for end to killings
CEBU CITY — Seven partylist representatives have condemned the killing of Escalante City Councilor and human rights worker Bernardino “Toto” Patigas, saying it was an “active, systematic and lethal campaign” against progressive candidates and their supporters.
In a resolution submitted to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the lawmakers called for an end to the killings in the country and that justice must be given to the family of Patigas.
“The rage, grief, and cry for justice in the killing of Councilor Toto Patigas extend to all the other victims of impunity reigning in the country,” they said.
“As members of the House of Representatives, we should not only strongly condemn these killings, these attempts to silence voices of dissent in our country, but we should also do everything within our powers to ensure that justice is given to the victims of this state of impunity,” they added.
Among those who filed the resolution were partylist Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Antonio Tinio and France Castro of the ACT Teachers, Ariel Casilao of Anakpwis, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela Women’s Party, and Sarah Jane Elago of Kabataan.
Patigas, 72, was driving his motorcycle on his way home after campaigning with other fellow candidates when he was waylaid by two assassins along the highway in Barangay Washington, Escalante City, Negros Occidental past 4 p.m. on April 22.
He was first shot on his leg and while he sprawled on the ground, the killers finished him off with a shot on the forehead.
Patigas, 72, was a human rights worker of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, a member organization of Karapatan-Negros chapter.
He was also the Escalante City coordinator of Bayan Muna Partylist and a long-time human rights defender of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates.
He was seeking reelection as a councilor in the May 13 elections.
The seven lawmakers said Patigas was a survivor of the Escalante massacre of 20 farmers and farmworkers on September 20, 1985, when government forces opened fire on ralliers staging a protest against the Marcos dictatorship.
Patigas, they added, continued to support human rights advocacies especially the cause of the “sakadas” of Negros and joined fact-finding missions in the island after former president Ferdinand Marcos was ousted.
In 2017, trumped-up complaints were filed against Patigas but these were dismissed due to lack of probable cause.
In April 2018, Patigas’ name and picture, were among the 63 photos of people tagged as communist rebel “personalities” on posters that appeared in Moises Padilla town.
The lawmakers said there seemed to be a visible nationwide vilification campaign by government troops against members and candidates of the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamayan (Makabayan) bloc.
“These virulent attacks are certainly cause for grave alarm as these put the rights and safety of the Makabayan Bloc members, campaigners, and supporters in jeopardy and serious danger, as in the case of Councilor Patigas. These attacks must be condemned in the highest degree,” they said.
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