The National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Bicol Region vowed justice for the two human rights workers killed in Sorsogon Province Saturday morning.
“We assure the families of (Nelly) Bagasala, (Ryan) Hubilla and all other victims of violence of the reactionary State of the revolutionary movement’s nonstop efforts until justice is given them,” Nel del Mundo, Bicol NDF spokesperson, said in Filipino.
Bagasala and Hubilla were killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle at Phase 2, Seabreeze Homes, Brgy. Cabid-an, Sorsogon City at eight o’clock in the morning of Saturday April 15 while alighting from a tricycle.
Alternative media outfits Baretang Bikolnon and Bicol Today said Hubilla was paying for their fare while Bagasala was still inside the sidecar when gunned down.
Their companion Isabel (not her real name) and the tricycle driver escaped.
Bagasala was a member of Sorsogon Peoples’ Organization (SPO), a member organization of the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights.
Hubilla, on the other hand was a Karapatan Sorsogon staff member and a member of the League of Filipino Students. He was a Grade 12 student.
Baretang Bikolnon reported that the three human rights workers reported being tailed by suspected military or police personnel when they were assisting “high profile” political prisoners being released Friday.
Hubilla took videos of two unidentified men on motorcycle who were tailing them and peeking inside their van, the report said.
The report added that the van driver who drove the victims during the release was threatened with a gun by unidentified men at around 9:30 Friday evening at Sorsogon City’s van terminal.
The victims were on their way to look for the van driver, reportedly a resident of Seabreeze Homes, to ask him about the incident when gunned down.
Karapatan national secretary general Cristina Palabay revealed in a Facebook post that Hubilla was in fact being mulled to act as witness for the organization’s petitions for relief with the higher courts last April.
“We were mulling to have him as a witness in our Court of Appeals hearings on the petition of writ of amparo and habeas data because of a recent incident of harassment and surveillance of suspected state agents involving Ryan and three other Karapatan human rights workers in Sorsogon last April when they were assisting political prisoners,” Palabay wrote.
Palabay said that the victims were most diligent in assisting the detainees and ensuring that their needs in jail are being addressed.
“Just yesterday, they provided assistance for three political prisoners who have been released. But now, Ryan won’t be able to testify, he will not be able to execute his affidavit. He is dead,” Palabay added.
“The Filipino people are revolted with the unceasing crimes and brutal killings under the United States-Rodrigo Duterte regime. These violence and exploitation only drive the people to resist and join the armed struggle,” del Mundo said.
Other groups condemned the killing of the human rights workers, blaming the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan, as well as Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70 for the “de facto martial law” in the entire country.