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World | National

HK-based church group backs call for justice for slain community leader in Pablo-hit village

Survivors of typhoon 'Pablo' hold a rally in Davao City (photo by Erwin Mascarinas,
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- A Hong Kong-based church group has joined the call for justice for a community leader in typhoon Pablo-ravaged Davao Oriental who was shot dead March 4 after leading protests against government red tape and corruption in the handling of relief for victims.

The Kowloon Union Church joined the many human rights advocates and peace-loving people in the Philippines and around the world in condemning the brazen killing of Cristina Morales Jose, who was shot dead by a motorcycle-riding assassin in her own village.

Cristina was a leader of the group Barug Katawhan (Visayan for People, Rise up!) and a councilor of Brgy. Binondo, Bangaga in Davao Oriental, Mindanao.

In a statement announcing its support for the campaign for justice for Cristina, the HK group said: “Cristina dedicated her life in the service of the people in her village that was gravely hit by the recent super typhoon Pablo (Bopha is the international name for Pablo). Instead of focusing only on her family, she helped assert the rights and welfare of the people of Brgy. Binondo, whose farms and sources of livelihood have been devastated by the floods. She led the people in her village to ask for government relief, which sadly was denied them. She asked for food, shelter and clothes but was answered with heavy militarization of her own village.”

It cited reports the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) hoarded the stocks of rice that were supposedly distributed to the typhoon-stricken families.

Then, the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army was deployed to their village and reportedly intimidated the residents there.

When they protested outside the regional office of the DSWD and demanded that relief be given, “they were threatened that they would not be provided any food rations if they joined the barricade/protest action.”

“In the time of great crisis and need, leaders of a nation should reach out first to their much-affected and gravely dispossessed citizens. In the time of a national tragedy or calamity, they could have immediately offered relief without condition to those in need,” the group said.

“Sadly, in the Philippines, this is not the case,” it noted.

Cristina, the group added, now joins “the growing list of people who have fallen victim to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. And we cannot help but ask: how many more until the Philippine government acts to stop these atrocities against the ordinary and innocent Filipinos? How many more Cristinas should fall before President Benigno Aquino III addresses and ends this state of impunity in the country?”

The group concluded: “We in the KUC call on the President Aquino to find in his heart the will and the strength to give justice to the brutal slaying of Cristina Morales Jose and all the victims of human rights violations.”