DOJ ‘may consider’ probing killing of human rights worker

Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday the Department of Justice (DOJ) “may consider” looking into the killing of human rights activist under its mechanism on politically motivated killings.

“We may consider her case for special investigation under AO 35 after some fact-checking,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

Administrative Order No. 35 created the Inter-Agency Committee On Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons (IAC).

An AO 35 investigation is being conducted on the killing of another activist and Anakpawis leader Randall Echanis who was found dead inside a house in Quezon City last week.

Zara Alvarez, a paralegal for the human rights group Karapatan was reportedly killed in a private village in Bacolod city, around 6:45 pm on Monday, the same day Echanis was buried.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said Alavarez was their 13th member who got killed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Karapatan slammed Alvarez’s killing, which occurred on the same day that peace consultant and peasant activist Randall Echanis was laid to rest. “What is beginning to look like killing spree of human rights defenders, peace advocates, and vocal critics in an attempt to sow terror and cower us into silence, especially now with the Anti-Terrorism Act in place,” the group said.

Also read: Police probe if death of human rights activist linked to leftist group

DOJ ‘may consider’ probing killing of human rights worker

“When will the killings stop? We just buried a peace advocate yesterday, and we’re not even through with mourning his death, and we now have to grapple with the killing of one of our colleagues!” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

She also said that Alvarez was included as among those tagged as “terrorists” in the proscription case of the Department of Justice filed in 2018. “Her name and that of many others were stricken off the list, but the threats against her by alleged State forces continued,” she said.

Palabay said the slain human rights activist was receiving death threats from the and police too.

“The and police never ceased in harassing her even as she was distributing rice to impoverished members of her barangay just last April amid the mass hunger caused by the lockdowns. We have no doubt that State forces are behind her merciless murder — the latest in a string of killings in Negros ever since Memorandum Order No. 32 was implemented in November 2018,” she said.