Indian Catholic News

Church, rights groups demand justice for slain Filipino activists

At least five activists have been gunned down since the start of June


Ecumenical and rights groups in the Philippines have demanded a thorough investigation into the killing of a church activist by gunmen on June 17.They also called for justice for four leftist activists shot dead since the start of June.

Neptali Morada, a member of the United Evangelical Church of Christ, was on his way to work when he was shot dead in Naga, a city south of Manila.

Morada was a former coordinator of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines and chairman of the Federation of Christian Youth in the Philippines.

Nardy Sabino, general secretary of the Promotion of Church People’s Response, said the killing of Morada was allegedly part of a "state-sponsored campaign to silence dissent."

The slain activist was also regional coordinator of the leftist New Patriotic Alliance in the northern Philippines before he worked with the Camarines Sur provincial government.

Activists and church workers gathered at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines office in Manila on June 18 to honor and pray for Morada.

"His commitment to working for social change drew him into service with various sectors of society," said Sabino.
Daniel Kenji Muramatsu, spokesman of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, condemned the "senseless killing."

"His death must inspire us to continue the work that he had passed onto us. We will continue to mobilize student Christians to defend human rights," he said.

Rommel Linatoc of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines called on the government to immediately investigate the killing.

Morada's killing came days after two members of human rights group Karapatan, a leader of a farmers' group, and a trade union worker were also gunned down.

Human rights workers Ryan Hubilla, 22, and Nelly Bagasala, 69, were killed after they assisted in the release of three political prisoners on June 15 in the city of Sorsogon.

On June 16, gunmen on motorbikes also shot Nonoy Palma, 57, a member of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines in Bukidnon province on the southern island of Mindanao.

On June 2, a gunman fatally shot Dennis Sequena, a labor organizer from the Workers’ Party as he met with workers in Cavite province, near Manila.

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the killings "inject fear among the people" and "nourish hatred against so-called peace officers of the country."

In a message sent to, the prelate said, "a Christian nation such as ours should promote peace and prosperity not by killing fellow men and women but by going to the root of the problem which is material poverty caused by injustice."Karapatan secretary-general, Cristina Palabay, claimed the slain activists "were subjected to periodic surveillance by the military" before they were killed.

"We have every reason to believe that those who killed them are military death squads," said Palabay.

"They were killed because they were staunch human rights defenders who dared to expose the government's transgressions on the rights and welfare of the people," she added.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch called on the Philippine government to "promptly and impartially investigate" the killings of leftist activists.

The human rights group said United Nations member states should ensure an international investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines at the upcoming session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on June 24 in Geneva.

Human Rights Watch said many of the killings occurred in the context of the Philippine government’s 50-year-old armed conflict with a communist insurgency.

Source: UCAN

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