BY CZARINA ONG KI
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is seeking justice for the killing of human rights activist Zara Alvarez as its Region IV’s sub-office in Bacolod City launched a motu proprio investigation on the case.
Alvarez, a former education director and a paralegal staff member of the human rights group Karapatan, was shot in the back by unidentified gunmen along Sta. Maria Street in Eroreco, Brgy. Mandalagan in Bacolod City on August 17.
CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement that her killing is another addition to the “alarming” string of attacks against human rights workers and defenders.
“The CHR sees this as a cause for concern, especially that the number of cases is still growing and justice is nowhere in sight,” she said.
Based on reports obtained by the commission, Alvarez had been a target of red-tagging and was once included in the list of more than 600 people that the Department of Justice (DoJ) wanted to tag as terrorists back in 2018.
While her name was eventually taken off the list, the CHR said that she was not spared as she was gunned down recently.
The CHR said that Alvarez’s death only shows how the red-tagging of human rights defenders constitute grave threats to their lives, liberty, and security.
The CHR is calling on the government to fulfill its human rights obligations.
The commission likewise said that the defense of human rights must not be misconstrued as acts of destabilizing the government.
“It is a reminder to the government, including all of its officials and officers, of their sworn duty to the people,” De Guia explained.