By Martin Sadongdong
Police General Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, ordered his men on Monday to validate the identities of the two human rights workers and the former spokesperson of a left-leaning organization that were killed in separate shooting incidents in the Bicol Region.
Neptali Morada, 45, said to be the former spokesperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Camarines Sur Chapter, was shot dead by a motorcycle-riding gunman in Barangay San Isidro, Naga City while she was on her way to work at the provincial capitol. The incident happened around 7 a.m. Monday.
Meanwhile, Ryan Hubilla, 22, and Nelly Bagasala, 69, were onboard a tricycle when they were fired upon by unidentified gunmen in Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon City around 8:20 a.m. last Saturday.
The two were staff of the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights-Sorsogon Chapter, according to Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
“Of course, we also have to establish kung talagang member ‘yan. Who knows baka mamaya tini-take advantage lang din nila ‘yan or they are saying that ito ay member. You know these people, they take advantage on almost everything kaya kailangan nila i-prove kung talagang member nila ‘yan (Of course, we also have to establish if they are members [of the said groups.] Who knows maybe these groups are just taking advantage of the situation by saying these were their members. You know these people, they take advantage on almost everything that’s why they need to prove if the victims were indeed their members),” Albayalde told reporters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
The PNP Chief, however, assured that investigations were already conducted to determine the circumstances behind the death of the three victims.
“Iniimbestigahan natin ‘yan. As I have said, we have to establish kung talagang member ‘yan. At the same time, kahit member ‘yan we have to know the circumstances, we have to establish the circumstances on their death (We are investigating that. As I have said, we have to establish if they really are members. At the same time, even if they are indeed members, we have to establish the circumstances on their death),” he stated.
“Not necessarily ito ay member ng ganito, member ng ganoon e bibigyan naman natin ng kumbaga focus talaga. We have other incidents also that we have to focus on ([It does] not necessarily mean that they are members of this group, we will already focus on it. We have other incidents also that we have to focus on),” he added.
Both BAYAN and Karapatan denounced the killings of their active and former members in what they said were attacks to “staunch human rights defenders who dare expose the current government’s transgressions on the rights and welfare of the people.”