MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm over the killing of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Randy Malayao on Wednesday, January 30.
"His death comes at a time when voices of opposition and human rights groups are tagged as enemies, making them possible subjects of assaults," CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.
CHR, she added, will now investigate the incident in "recognition of the primacy of a person’s right to life and in helping make perpetrators accountable for this crime."
Malayao was shot dead Wednesday morning while aboard a bus bound for Isabela. He was sleeping when he was gunned down by unidentified man, according to police reports.
Rights group Karapatan demanded justice for 49-year-old Malayao, a long-time activist, and the other victims of extrajudicial killings from the ranks of human rights defenders. (READ: Powering through a crisis: Defending human rights under Duterte)
"We lay the blame of these killings to the Duterte government, which has unceasingly threatened human rights and peace advocates and incite the commission of these dastardly crimes against them and their communities," Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.
"The victims have been repeatedly harassed prior to their deaths, and they were no doubt targeted because of their advocacies on people’s rights and for just and lasting peace," she added.
Malayao was part of peace negotiations in Europe during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte as NDF panel consultant on political and constitutional reforms. He's also a member of the board of trustees of North Luzon's Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and the vice president of Makabayan Coalition.
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.