3 linked to militant, rights groups slain in Bicol attacks
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — A former regional head of Bayan Muna in Bicol and two workers of a human rights group were killed in separate attacks in Naga City and Sorsogon City in the past three days, police said.
The latest fatality was the former Bayan Muna regional head in Bicol, Neptali Morada, 40, who was gunned down by unidentified men in Naga City on Monday.
Morada, who also served as Bagong Alyansang Makabayan campaign committee head, was on his way to the Camarines Sur capitol in Pili town, where he worked as a staff of former Vice Gov. Ato Peña, when the gunmen attacked him in Barangay San Isidro at 7:30 a.m.
The killing happened two days after two staffers of the rights group Karapatan, Nelly Bagasala and Ryan Hubilla, were gunned down in Sorsogon City.
Delia Esperida, Morada’s sister, said Morada left Bayan Muna to provide for the needs of his children, a Grade 8 student and a 4-year-old child.
She said Morada, before finding a job in Peña’s office, worked in a rice farm.
The Bicol chapter of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemned the killing of Morada.
Maria Roja Banua, spokesperson for NDFP Bicol, said the killing was meant to target “those with the [courage] to fight for the rights of the citizens.”
“It is clear that the police, the military and the government it is serving will not stop until those opposing them are silenced,” Banua said in a statement.
Since March last year, Morada had been approached by soldiers asking him to sign a document saying that he was a surrenderer, Esperida said, adding that her brother had refused.
She said that even when Morada was already working for Peña, the soldiers were still asking for the former vice governor’s permission to invite him and talk to him.
“Peña said that they could talk to Morada at his office. After that, he even said that they could talk to him in his house, so that was when they started going to his house,” Esperida said.
She appealed to the government to immediately solve the murder, calling Morada a “responsible provider and kind father.”
“I hope that my brother gets the justice that he deserves. In our family, he was the peacemaker whenever there were fights,” she said.