Eastern Visayas

National Youth Commission, local officials condemn killing of Samar SK councilor

Lance Lim

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National Youth Commission, local officials condemn killing of Samar SK councilor

Samar governor Michael Tan used this sign to warn that the killing of Gerald Casaljay brings a "chilling effect" on the province's youth.

Credit Governor Michael Tan

Grieving allies describe Gerald 'Mommy Oyok' Casaljay as a 'beautiful and talented individual and a cherished member of the LGBTQ+ community'

SAMAR, Philippines – Officials of the National Youth Commission (NYC), Samar governor Reynolds Michael Tan, lawmakers, and youth groups have condemned the February 8 killing of Calbayog City Sangguniang Kabataan councilor Gerald “Mommy Oyok” Casaljay.

Casaljay, a resident of Barangay Migara, was shot dead around 4 a.m. in Purok 1, Barangay Osmeña, Calbayog.

The head of the city police operations section, Lt Nieto Balani Rarugal, said Casaljay was on his way home with a friend, Brandel Yrigon, who survived the attack.

Rarugal said the police got word of the crime around 7 a.m.

“We have already identified a suspect, but we still can’t give any name so as not to compromise the case,” Rarugal told Rappler in a phone interview.

Samar first district representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento on Wednesday, February 9, urged Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año and the regional police office to take immediate action.

“With grief and sadness, we send our deepest condolences to the family of Gerald Casaljay and pray for the immediate recovery of Brandel Yrigon,” Sarmiento said. 

“We are one with the families of those who have lost their lives to these incidents of violence, in condemning these killings. We also demand justice for the innocent lives that were lost and we pray for the lasting peace in our district,” he added. 

The office of Samar second district representative Sharee Ann Tan, through her political affairs officer Yen Pomida-Nacario, described Casaljay as a “beautiful and talented individual and a cherished member of the LGBTQ+ community.”

National Youth Commission Assistant Secretary for the Visayas Christine Joy Escober Cari, who was born and raised in Samar, condemned the killing of the youth leader. 

“Youth organizations like the Sirak Kabataan give our youth the voice to help achieve a better Samar. As the NYC commissioner representing the Visayas, I strongly condemn the killings in the city of Calbayog and urge the PNP to bring justice to the death of Casaljay,” she told Rappler in an interview on February 9. 

The Sangguniang Kabataan Provincial Federation of Samar said the killing of Casaljay deprived him of his right to live in a society and contribute to its growth and development. 

“This incident is a blatant affront to their human rights as well as an act of deprivation of the right to participate in activities vital to his and his society’s growth and development on the basis of ideology, organizational and political affinity,” it said in a statement.

SIRAK Kabataan, a government-initiated group where Casaljay is an active volunteer, also condemned the killing. 

“No cause can justify such brutality and senseless killing, especially of the young and innocent, and promising future leaders of the government have become the recent victims,” SIRAK’s statement said. “These barbaric acts not only escalate violence but also create a wider social divide among the people.”

Samar governor Reynolds Michael Tan said the killing of Casaljay brings a “chilling effect” on youth and urged authorities to conduct a thorough investigation.  

“I pray that this senseless attack on our Sirak Kabataan and SK Member is isolated and that the perpetrators will be held accountable. I urge our Philippine National Police to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation and find the culprit of this cowardly act. I strongly urge our communities to be vigilant and reject violence,” he said. – Rappler.com

Lance Lim is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.

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