Negros-based activist killed in Bacolod – rights group Karapatan
MANILA, Philippines — An activist based on Negros Island was killed in Bacolod City on Monday night, rights group Karapatan said.
According to Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay, the victim was identified as Zara Alvarez, the group’s former education director and a paralegal staff member on Negros Island.
Palabay said that the killing of Alvarez comes just as Karapatan and other progressive groups were still mourning the death of Randall “Randy” Echanis, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant who was slain last Monday.
“We are in deep grief and indignation. Today, we laid to rest Ka Randy Echanis, one of those who helped established Karapatan and staunch peacebuilder and land rights defender. Tonight, we learned of the sad news that our former campaign and education director and paralegal in Negros, Zara Alvarez, was killed in Bacolod City,” Palabay said in a Facebook post.
“Zara, 39, was imprisoned for nearly two years and after her release, she continued to work as Karapatan’s paralegal and as research and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP),” she added.
We are in deep grief and indignation. Today, we laid to rest Ka Randy Echanis, one of those who helped established…
Officers at the Bacolod City Police Office confirmed in a radio interview to INQUIRER.net that a shooting occurred in Barangay Mandalagan of Bacolod and that the victim was identified as a certain Zara.
Palabay said that Alvarez was included in the supposed same 2018 list where Echanis was tagged as a terrorist.
Various activist organizations, including Anakpawis, a group that Echanis chaired, believe that Echanis was killed by state agents in his rented home at Novaliches, Quezon City. However, police officers asked that people refrain from making assumptions without enough evidence.
“Like Ka Randy, she was included as among those tagged as ‘terrorists’ in proscription case of the Department of Justice filed in 2018. Her name and that of many others were stricken off the list, but the threats against her by alleged State forces continued,” Palabay said.
“We extend our condolences to Zara’s family and friends, as we and many other colleagues mourn the killing of a beloved human rights and health worker. We will never relent in pursuing justice for Zara, Ka Randy and all victims of extrajudicial killings,” she added.
An entry about Alvarez on the website of the German Action Network Human Rights – Philippines show that Alvarez was allegedly harassed for speaking about human rights issues and was branded as a member of the communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).
Alvarez was also arrested in 2012 for alleged involvement over the death of an Army lieutenant during a skirmish with NPA last 2010.
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