Labor organizer shot dead in Cebu

AN organizer of a cause-oriented group was shot dead Saturday morning in Barangay Maghaway, Talisay City.

Orlando Abangan, 35, was riding his motorcycle on his way home in Sitio Lawis, Barangay Maghaway at 8 a.m. when the assailant approached and shot him.

Abangan was identified as a long-time member of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

Supt. Aileen Recla, acting Talisay City police chief, told Sun.Star Cebu that the gunman was reportedly waiting for Abangan to arrive.

Police have a witness who identified a neighbor of Abangan as the one who pulled the trigger.

Police are withholding the name of the suspect.

Recla said they are looking into the possibility that the murder was related to Abangan’s work as a PM organizer.

According to his relatives, Abangan was not from Maghaway. He would only go there to look for people who would help him organize demonstrations.

His relatives told police that Abangan had not received any death threat or had enemies.

PM’s Cebu chapter has urged authorities to conduct swift but thorough investigation into the killing.

War on drugs

“His killing creates a chilling effect to all defenders of labor and human rights. We cannot be cowed by this kind of violence but we cannot also take this incident lightly in the face of mass murders committed every day under the government’s on-going war on drugs,” said PM-Cebu spokesperson Dennis Derige.

Abangan is survived by his wife and two children. He was a full-time PM organizer in the Province of Cebu since 2001.

During the May 9, 2016 elections, he organized Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Talisay, which campaigned for social protection and social services for their sector.

Recently, he was an informal sector organizer of the labor center Sentro.

“Ka Lando was very smart, dedicated and disciplined leader and organizer as he can combine trade union work and community organizing. Organizing was his daily life and trade union leaders in Cebu knew him as such, thus, dismissing all possibility that he was into drugs or other criminal activities,” Derige said.

The group also appealed to all human rights groups in Central Visayas and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct their own investigations.

Derige said that labor and human rights groups will hold a press conference today.

The group is digging into some information that may point to the motive behind Abangan’s killing.

The national office of PM has condemned the killing and assailed what it calls a reigning culture of impunity that has resulted in killings all over the country.

“Labor rights and human rights are an indivisible whole. Impunity rules when state leaders compromise the citizens’ right to life in pursuit of another objective,” said PM national spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.

PM is a member of the coalition in Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (Defend), which advocates that human rights and due process cannot be sacrificed in government’s on-going war against drugs and criminality.
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