CHR conducts own probe into killing of Northern Samar Comelec officer
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional office has already launched its own investigation into the killing of an election officer in Northern Samar, lawyer and CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
According to De Guia, the investigation into the killing of Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer James Diaz Maghanoy in Lope de Vega town is meant to stop impunity and prevent a violent election period, which undermines the public’s right to suffrage.
“[CHR] in Region VIII has undertaken an immediate independent probe to ensure that accountability will be exacted. The urgent need to curb impunity cannot be overemphasized, especially during this volatile election period,” De Guia said in a statement.
“Election violence denigrates human rights, particularly the right to life, and creates an atmosphere of fear that impacts the conduct of free and genuine elections—a democratic exercise of the people’s right to vote. As such, the brazen killing of Municipal Election Officer James Diaz Maghanoy, 42, in Lopez de Vega, Northern Samar is strongly condemnable,” she added.
Police reports showed that Maghanoy was on his way home from work last Friday, aboard a motorcycle, when the assailants shot him at a close range. He sustained gunshot wounds to the body and his head.
The victim was then brought to the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.
As of now, the local police has not identified the assailants and their possible motive.
Comelec, for their part, called on authorities to leave no stone unturned in identifying and resolving the killing of Maghanoy.
De Guia said that CHR echoes Comelec’s call, while urging the government to place measures to prevent violent incidents.
“As in all similar cases of killings and violence, we continue to harp the expedient need to bring perpetrators to account and to implement concrete mechanisms that will genuinely reduce violence on the ground. The Commission also joins the call of the Commission on Elections for authorities to swiftly deliver justice,” De Guia said.
“CHR offers its sincerest condolences and prayers to the family and friends of the victim. As an integral part of State duty, we appeal to the government to ensure a safe, free, and genuine elections. We also ask all citizens and concerned groups to be vigilant in defense of basic rights and freedoms during this period,” she added.
Elections in the Philippines have always been highly contested, with some local disputes leading to spates of violence. In November 2009, the worst election-related violence happened when assailants killed 58 people who tried to file the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.
Mangudadatu was running for the gubernatorial seat of Maguindanao, which was then occupied by the Ampatuan clan. Last December 2019, former town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., his siblings, and other individuals were found guilty of staging the massacre.
The attack was also the biggest single-day attack on journalists, with 32 media workers dead during the incident.
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