By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the recent killing of Talitay Mayor Abdul Wahab Sabal of Maguindanao by unidentified gunmen riding a motorcycle in Malate, Manila.
On Feb. 10, Sabal was gunned down by gunmen riding in tandem just outside a hotel along Quirino Avenue, shortly after 10 p.m. He was getting down from his vehicle when the gunmen approached and shot him repeatedly before fleeing the scene.
Sabal was the latest victim in a string of killings specifically targeting mayors, vice mayors, and other local government officials. Sabal was included in the government’s narco-list back in 2016, which alleged that he was involved in the illegal drug trade.
The CHR noted that Sabal is not the first local chief executive included in the narco-list to be killed by gunmen riding in tandem.
CHR Spokesperson lawyer Jacqueline de Guia said his ambush is another “notch in a pattern of impunity and violence” that has taken hold of the country. She said the release of the supposed narco-list back in 2016 violated due process of law and has inevitably led to violence.
“Judgement and justice can only be achieved by going through the proper channels. This continued bloodshed is a failure of the State in protecting its citizens, as primary duty bearers and protectors of human rights,” she said.
De Guia said good governance cannot be achieved if public servants are constantly living in fear, so she urged the government to ensure the safety of elected officials.
“This cycle of violence must be addressed, for its lasting effects and consequences are already being felt. Additionally, CHR calls for a peaceful and long-term solution to the drug problem so that the Filipino people are provided with a safer environment where all can thrive,” she said.