BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Accusations from the New People’s Army blaming the Armed Forces of the Philippines or National Police for the death of human rights activist Zara Alvarez recently in Bacolod City is no longer a surprise for them, a ranking military official yesterday said.
“We are not resorting to extra-judicial means,” Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, stressed yesterday in response to accusations of Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesman of the NPA Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, that the AFP and PNP were behind the killing of Alvarez.
It is not the job of the Philippine Army in Negros, he said.
Pasaporte said that the effort of the Brigade is focused more on the armed group, which is the New People’s Army.
The Rachelle Mae Palang Command–New People’s Army Southeast Negros Guerrilla Front also issued a statement condemning the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the AFP and PNP, for the brutal assassination of Alvarez, a Negros-based human rights advocate, church activist, health worker, paralegal officer, and a former political prisoner.
The Commission on Human Rights yesterday said that the killing of Alvarez shows why red-tagging — labeling activists as enemies of the state — is a serious concern.
“The killing of Zara Alvarez is another addition to the alarming string of attacks against human rights workers and advocates in the country. The Commission on Human Rights sees this as a cause for concern, especially that the number of cases is still growing and justice is nowhere in sight,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said in a statement.
Alvarez was reportedly included in the list of more than 600 people that the Department of Justice wanted legally declared as terrorists in 2018.
Pasaporte said that the military is now a professional organization, and there is a big change in their attitude towards work.
It was the NPA that resorted to extra-judicial killings as they openly admitted the killing of so many innocent civilians in Negros, he added.
Pasaporte also revealed an organizational leadership problem in Negros Island, where ranking cadres from other areas are now occupying key positions.
During the Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting yesterday at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, that was presided over by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Pasaporte reported that they recorded 161 violent and non-violent activities of the NPA in the cities of Himamaylan, and Kabankalan, Sipalay as well as in Candoni.*