Malaya Movement Canada strongly and vigorously condemns the killing of Zara Alvarez last August 17, 2020 in Bacolod City. Zara Alvarez was a young and dedicated human rights activist, a human rights educator and paralegal for the human rights group in Negros Island, central Philippines. She also worked as advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program. She was red-tagged because of her activism work and was included in a government and military “terror list” of 600+ individuals and in 2013, Alvarez was arrested on trumped up charges and detained for almost two years.
According to Karapatan and news reports, Alvarez was fatally shot at least five to six times by an unidentified gunman along the Sta. Maria Street in Eroreco, Mandalagen that early evening of August 17. Alvarez was headed home that night after buying food for dinner. Residents heard the shots, saw Alvarez’s lifeless body sprawled on the ground and several covered her body with umbrellas. The news has angered the communities in Negros and beyond. Alvarez is the 13th human rights worker to be killed under the Duterte regime and will most likely be not the last.
A week before Alvarez’s murder, another activist and peace consultant Randy Echanis, 72 years old, was killed inside his home. Echanis was stabbed multiple times and tortured. Like Alvarez , Echanis was also listed in the government’s “terror list” .
With the new “Terror” Law, the Duterte regime has legitimized its attacks against people and groups critical of his government and its policies, including his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. These attacks range from red-tagging, death threats, surveillance, filing of bogus charges, illegal arrests and detention, and extra-judicial killings. This war by the government against the Filipino people is part of the national policy of the Duterte government’s counterinsurgency Operation Kapayapaan . The deaths of Alvarez and Echanis are the two recent examples of these attacks and both were marked for death.
The new “Terror” Law reinforces even more the culture of impunity that the government, the military, police and its agents enjoy and it is very difficult to bring perpetrators of human rights violations like the killers of Zara Alvarez and Randall Echanis to justice. The “Terror Law” is the government’s attempt to silence, intimidate, and terrorize the people to submission and subservience. But the Duterte government underestimates the Filipino people who continue to organize and mobilize to exercise their rights and freedoms.
The people are angry and rightfully so — when the government that is supposed to protect them has abandoned them in favour of the interests of the military, big business, and foreign interests and has instead declared war against them.
Malaya Movement Canada demands justice for Zara Alvarez, Randall Echanis and all the victims of extrajudicial killings! We call on all the freedom loving Filipinos to stand for justice and take action on the gross and systemic violation of human rights in the Philippines.
MALAYA Movement Canada Spokersperson