Bishop seeks justice for Zara on first death anniversary

Julius Dagatan file photo

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza called for justice for human rights defender Zara Alvarez on the eve of the first anniversary of her murder in Bacolod City on Aug. 17, 2020.

She was gunned down by still unidentified suspects at Eroreco Subdivision in Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City, as she was walking home in the evening of Aug. 17, 2020.

“One year after she was mercilessly murdered, justice remains elusive as the perpetrators remain at large,” Alminaza, chairman of the Church People-Workers’ Solidarity (CWS), said.

CWS joins all human rights advocates in calling for a speedy investigation into her murder to bring the criminals to justice, he said.

He said for years Alvarez was an active church worker who worked tirelessly defending the poor and powerless. She was deeply involved in community-based programs that seek to uplift the conditions of farmers, workers, urban poor and jeepney drivers, Alminaza added.

Alvarez was also a member of the Council of Health and Development (CHD) board of trustees and an advocacy officer of Negros Island Health Integrated Program for Community Development for many years, he said.

“Zara’s death is just one of the hundreds of activists, farmers, union leaders, and human rights defenders killed under the Duterte administration. The killings have intensified especially after Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL),” Alminaza said.

The ATL has emboldened the police, military and state forces to “red-tag” activists and political dissenters who are labeled as terrorists, he said.

“Zara was among those red-tagged in Negros a few years ago. Most of those red-tagged were either killed or illegally detained with trumped-up
charges,” he said.

CWS vehemently condemns these senseless killings and hold the Duterte regime accountable for these murders, he said.

Alminaza said CWS supports the move of various human rights groups to bring Duterte to the International Criminal Court for the crimes he committed against the Filipino people.*

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