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Groups picket Davao City hall to condemn murder of 'Pablo' survivors' leader

Survivors of typhoon 'Pablo' and members of activist groups shout out in the streets of Davao City for justice after community leader Christina Jose was shot dead in her home town of Baganga in Davao Oriental. (photo by Erwin Mascarinas,
The online news portal of TV5

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Survivors of typhoon “Pablo,” joined by human rights advocates and other activist groups, staged a rally at the Davao City hall on Tuesday to condemn the recent murder of a leader of the storm survivors.

Cristian Morales Jose, a village council member of barangay Binondo in Baganga, one of the towns devastated by Pablo in Davao Oriental province late last year, was shot dead Monday evening as she left a session of the council.

Jose was also an officer of Barug Katawhan, the organization of Pablo survivors that has been protesting the delays in the delivery of relief goods. They also exposed the alleged corruption in the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Recently, the group stormed the DSWD regional office here and hauled out stored relief goods, triggering clashes with police.

Tuesday’s protesters accused the government of being behind Jose’s death.

“This is a treacherous act by the fascist government. What Christina did was simply to expose cases of corruption and human rights violations enshrouding the relief operations that are supposedly humanitarian,” said Sheena Duazo, spokesperson for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao Region.

But Duazo said Jose’s murder would not dampen the resolve of the typhoon survivors to demand relief operations and environmental justice.

“We strongly condemn her death. Jose was one of the staunch leaders who protested for the rights of the Pablo survivors during the three-day kampuhan at the DSWD Region 11 office,” said Cherry Oriendain, regional spokesperson for Anakbayan.

Orendain said Christina was one of the key voices of Pablo-stricken communities in exposing irregularities in the distribution of relief and had also led the fight against mining and illegal logging in the area.

She accused President Benigno Aquino III of refusing “to acknowledge and take action” against the impunity that has marked continued human rights violations under his administration.

“We are saddened by her death but this will push us to more action against the corruption that has been going on in the distribution of relief goods and for the environmental justice Christina was pushing for,” Juland Suazo, information officer of Panalipdan said.

He lauded the campaign waged by Jose and Barug Katawhan against large-scale mining and illegal logging.

The protesters also accused the DSWD and the military of collusion in the “uneven” distribution of relief to Pablo survivors.