‘Attacker of human rights activist was lone gunman’

Human rights activist Zara Alvarez was on her way home to Sta Maria Street, Eroreco Subdivision in Barangay Mandalagan in this city when she was attacked by a lone gunman on a rainy Monday night, August 17.

At that time, she was walking with her two female housemates, one of them a 17-year-old girl, when the suspect tailed them.

Major Richard Fajarito, Bacolod Police Station 3 chief, said the victim did not notice that somebody was following them since it was already dark and there was a downpour. He added that Alvarez came from a small wet market nearby to buy food.

The suspect then shot the victim in the back 3 times. After Alvarez fell on the pavement, the gunman finished her off with multiple shots, Fajarito said.

The residents heard 6 shots, while the victim’s two companions, who were unscathed, ran for their lives.

Alvarez died on the spot.

“She (Alvarez) was the target. There was an intention to kill her,” Fajarito said.

He said the gunman fled the scene on foot, and that there was another man on board a motorcycle waiting for him in the narrow alley.

He said the gunman “planned the killing” and surveyed the residential area to familiarize himself. He could have been monitoring and following the victim, Fajarito added.

He said the village watchmen who responded to the scene came after the suspects, but they were long gone.

Fajarito said they had no leads yet on the identity of the gunman, and that they were conducting a thorough investigation of the case.

He said the police had no idea that the victim received death threats prior to the killing, until a relative of Alvarez relayed this to them on Tuesday, August 18.

Alvarez, 39, worked with a lot of organizations, including serving as research and advocacy officer for the Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP).  (READ: Honoring Zara Alvarez's 'selfless, relentless' human rights work in Negros Island)

She was also among the “terrorists” tagged in the proscription case of the Department of Justice filed in 2018. – Rappler.com