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An unfinished plea: Two Albay activists shot dead before completing an ‘Operation Pinta’ call for President Duterte’s ouster

The autopsies on Jaymar Palero and Marlon Napire showed bruising and other signs of torture.

Two activists were shot dead by Albay police while spray-painting a call for President Rodrigo Duterte’s ouster on the wall of Banao Bridge in Brgy. Banao, Guinobatan, Albay, evening of July 25.

Hours before President Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA), police forces shot Jaymar Palero of the Organisasyon ng mga Magsasaka sa Albay and Marlon Napire of human rights group Albay People’s Organization. The activists, who were both residents of Guinobatan, Albay, were not even able to finish their “Operation Pinta” protest art and were only able to write “DUTERTE IBAGS”. 

In a statement, Defend Bicol Stop The Attacks Network strongly condemned the attack on the two activists – emphasizing that the blood of two Bicolanos drenched Banao Bridge, highly contradicting President Duterte’s claim in his SONA that he “loves the Bicolano people”.

“Dissent may take on many form[s], but to kill innocent unarmed civilians in the dead of the night for painting the people’s call is purely fascist and brutal,” Defend Bicol wrote.

An official report of the Albay Police stated that the policemen only acted in self-defense after the activists fired at them. The policemen were supposedly only going to accost them after they were caught spray-painting an anti-government statement. The Albay Police Provincial Office, on its Facebook page goes as far as to discredit Defend Bicol’s statement that the victims were unarmed, calling such claim “fake news”.

Defend Bicol, meanwhile, stated that the police are creating yet another false narrative.

“The unarmed civilians are now being branded as ‘nanlaban’ by police forces, an old narrative of the police being used in tokhang operations,” the organization added.

In truth, the “nanlaban” narrative has been commonly used ever since the Duterte administration’s War on Drugs, all the while police brutality remains a rampant issue (READ: Culprits dressed in blue: a disservice, dishonor, and injustice).

It can be recalled that it was late December last year when policeman Jonel Nuezca shot two civilians in broad daylight “over a dispute of what could have been settled without resulting in bloodshed”. Last May, the country once more cried for justice after Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan shot a 52-year old woman dead – an act that had also been video recorded.

Contrary to Albay Police’s claim, Defend Bicol stated that Napire and Palero could not have shot first as their autopsy shows that they had bruises and other signs of visible torture, and that they were shot in the back.

The organization added that there was a two to three hour gap between the time that the incident occurred and the time that the activists were declared dead. Napire and Palero’s two other companions, who managed to flee, saw the victims alive before being brought inside the police vehicle. 

Police Major Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson, said in a press statement on July 28 that at least six members of the Albay police involved in the incident were relieved from their duty. They were also placed under restricted custody at the Albay Police provincial office.

On the same day, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar ordered an investigation into the incident. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the killing of the two activists. [P]

Photo from Anakbayan Laguna / Facebook

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