Activist leader gunned down

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BY SHIELA G. GELERA

A local activist leader was gunned down at Sta. Maria Street, Eroreco Subdivision in Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City, at about 7 last night.

Killed was Zara Reboton Alvarez, 39, of Cadiz City in Negros Occidental, an advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program for Community Development and a Karapatan member.

The police said Alvarez was initially identified by her board mates as a certain Sarah Rebuton of Cadiz, but her family members and friends later confirmed her identity.

Unidentified armed men shot Alvarez and escaped, leaving her lying on the pavement in her own blood amid heavy downpour.

P/Maj. Richard Fajarito, Station 3 chief, said that Alvarez succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds.

The police are looking into two suspects behind the death of Alvarez, Fajarito said, adding that witnesses saw a getaway motorcycle waiting in an adjacent corner.

She was on her way home to her boarding house when the incident happened, Fajarito added.

Karapatan, in a statement, said they are in deep grief and indignation, as they vow that they will never relent in pursuing justice for Alvarez.

They said that yesterday, they laid to rest Ka Randy Echanis, a land rights defender, and one of those who helped establish Karapatan and a staunch peace-builder.

“Tonight, we learned of the sad news that our former campaign and education director and paralegal in Negros, Zara Alvarez, was killed in Bacolod,” the statement said yesterday.

Alvarez, who was imprisoned for about two years, had continued to work, after she was released, as Karapatan’s paralegal and as research and advocacy officer of NIHIP, it said.

Karapatan also said that Alvarez, Ka Randy, and several other activists were among those tagged as “terrorists” in a proscription case of the Department of Justice in 2018.

Her name was stricken off the list but she continued to receive threats, the group added.

“We will honor Zara’s legacy as a passionate, selfless and dedicated human rights worker,” the statement added.*

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