Lawyers’ group condemns killing of Sorsogon human rights worker

Slain human rights worker Edwin Pura. (Photo courtesy of Bicol Today)

By BULATLAT

MANILA – A progressive lawyers’ group denounced yesterday’s killing of a paralegal worker in Sorsogon province, which they said is in line with the state’s attacks against human rights workers and other activists.

Edwin Pura, 49, was shot dead by two men suspected to be state security forces at past midnight Oct. 25, in Paradijon village, Gubat, Sorsogon. Pura reportedly noticed two men tailing him and tried to shake them off by entering the Angie Resto Bar. The suspects followed him inside and shot him.

Pura was the paralegal staff of human rights lawyer Ron Ely Espinosa, who is the second vice president for Luzon of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). Pura was also a former leader of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and a transport leader, said BAYAN-Bicol.

In a statement, NUPL said the killing of Pura is also an attack against lawyer Espinosa, for whom Pura has been working as a staff for a year. NUPL said that in August, Espinosa was targeted by an armed man who went to his law office in Sorsogon city, but backed out when he saw other people, including journalists, at Espinosa’s office.

“NUPL believes that the failed attempt to take Espinosa’s life and the killing of Pura is part of the state’s systematic pattern of harassment against its dissenters,” said NUPL secretary general Ephraim Cortez.

Cortez noted that last year, Espinosa learned that he was included in the drug watchlist of the local Philippine National Police, but he shrugged it off as another form of harassment on human rights lawyers.

In 2006, also in Gubat, Sorsogon, human rights lawyer Gil Gogol and his driver Danilo France were shot dead near the detachment of the 22nd infantry battalion of the Philippine Army.

NUPL said Pura and Espinosa were colleagues and former members of League of Filipino Students (LFS-Sorsogon). In March this year, the two were part of the Karapatan-led quick reaction team that searched for missing farmers in Bondoc Peninsula, San Andres, Quezon. Espinosa served as counsel for the family of the missing farmers who petitioned for a writ of amparo in court.

Calling the killing as part of “desperate actions,” the group said they will continue to call and fight for justice.

“These incidents are alarming, but we do not dwell in stillness and linger in fear,” said Cortez. “Despite previous unresolved cases of killings, we still call on the authorities and challenge them to take the appropriate action.” ()

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