Human rights activist shot dead in Bacolod City

Human rights activist Zara Alvarez was gunned down along Sta Maria Street in Eroreco, Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City on Monday night, August 17.

Police identified the victim as a certain Sarah Rebuton of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

Julius Dagatan, media liaison of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Negros, confirmed that the fatality was Zara Alvarez.

The police report said that Alvarez was shot dead by unidentified perpetrators.

Karapatan, in a statement, said they are in "deep grief and indignation."

"Today, we laid to rest Ka Randy Echanis, one of those who helped [establish] Karapatan and staunch peace-builder and land rights defender. Tonight, we learned of the sad news that our former campaign and education director and paralegal in Negros, Zara Alvarez, was killed in Bacolod City," the group said.

Alvarez, 39, was imprisoned for nearly two years. After her release, she continued to work as Karapatan's paralegal and as research and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program, the group said.

Alvarez was among the more than 600 people that the Department of Justice wanted to declare as terrorists in a proscription case filed in February 2018.

The list has been trimmed down to only two – exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and alleged Mindanao Commission Secretary Antonio Cabanatan – in a still pending case.

"We extend our condolences to Zara's family and friends, as we and many other colleagues mourn the killing of a beloved human rights and health worker. We will never relent in pursuing justice for Zara, Ka Randy, and all victims of extrajudicial killings," Karapatan said.

They added, "we will honor Zara’s legacy as a passionate, selfless and dedicated human rights worker, by continuing the struggle for the realization of people's rights." – with reports from Lian Buan/Rappler.com