AUTHORITIES are now investigating the killing of human rights advocates in Sorsogon provinces and Naga City, Camarines Sur over the weekend, a police official said on Monday, June 17.
Major General Amador Corpuz, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director, said CIDG operatives together with the local police are now working closely to identify and arrest the suspects behind the killing of Ryan Hubilla, Nelly Bagasala and Naptali Morada.
Hubilla and Bagasala were members of Karapatan while Morada was a member of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Hubilla, 22 and Bagasala, 69, were gunned down by unidentified motorcycle-riding suspects on Saturday, June 15, in Seabreeze Homes Subdivision in Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon.
Morada was shot dead on Monday morning, June 17, in Barangay San Isidro in Naga City.
PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said the police will first establish the affiliation of the victims.
"We also have to establish kung talagang member 'yan. Who knows baka mamaya, tinetake advantage lang din nila 'yan or they're saying that ito ay member," he said.
"You know these people, they take advantage on almost everything. Kaya kailangan nila iprove kung talagang member nila 'yan. Even us, kailangan nating iconfirm whether they are members of Karapatan or not," he added.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay earlier condemned the killings which she said were part of the crackdown against activists.
The PNP earlier issued a memorandum directing its intelligence community to beef up the background investigation on members of groups allegedly affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Meanwhile, the Kabataan Party-list joined the indignation rally at the Camp Aguinaldo at 10 a.m. Monday to protest the killings.
Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago lamented that the Duterte Administration has "further advanced a culture of impunity wherein human rights defenders and peasant acitivists are viewed as enemies of the state."
She noted that Noynoy Palma, a member of Kasama-Bukidnon, was also shot dead outside his residence at around 8 a.m. of June 16, 2019.
"The facist attacks under the Duterte regime keeps in intensifying against human rights workers, youth, and peasants," she said.
"The killers are murdering people in broad daylight, and they have nothing to fear because the President himself backs them up. The culture of impunity in our country is at its worst," she added.
"As the Pag-Asa ng Bayan, we rage against a system that kills the youth and the people. These attacks to our lives and civil liberties must stop," Elago said. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo with Ryniel Berlanga/SunStar Philippines)