Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos has condemned the brutal murder of Zara Alvarez, “someone closest in my work with the oppressed”.
The bishop sought justice for Alvarez, 39, and urged authorities to address impunity that permits such attacks against human rights defenders.
“I bleed of this never-ending injustice and violence… These systemic killings of human rights defenders and activists must be condemned and must stop,” Alminaza said in a statement.
“Our responsible agencies must pursue justice and accountability on those responsible and should never allow impunity of criminals doing senseless executions of Filipinos,” he said.
Alvarez was gunned down in Bacolod City on Monday night, a week after the murder of peace activist Randall Echanis in Manila.
A worker for the ecumenical group Church People-Workers Solidarity, the victim was a “human rights champion” in Negros Island.
The bishop said that Alvarez’s active involvement in the CWS, which he co-chairs, “is worthy of emulation – always reminding us to be prophetic in our work of evangelization and social justice”.
“I thank the Lord for knowing you, Zara, my dear little child of struggle,” Alminaza said. “I promise to ever continue our work in the service of God’s poor.”
“Zara, they took your life, believing that they can silence the cause you are fighting for… But no, Zara, your martyrdom in the cause for justice will inspire us to advance the cry for justice – the cry of the oppressed,” he said.
Alvarez was a former political prisoner before serving the human rights group Karapatan and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program.
In 2018, she was included in a list tagged by the government as a terrorist in a proscription case of the Justice department in 2018.