An activist leading relief efforts for people affected by the “enhanced community quarantine” in the central Philippine city of Iloilo was shot dead in his home early morning of April 30.
The killing came amid government warnings against “unauthorized relief operations” in areas under lockdown.
Reports said four men barged into the beachside cottage and coffee shop of Jory Porquia, city coordinator of leftist political party Bayan Muna, and shot the activist.
Two of the masked men reportedly held a passerby and pointed guns at witness to prevent them from calling for help.
Local police chief, Capt. Marlyn Roquero, said Porquia suffered eight gunshot wounds, including one to the head.
Authorities said they have yet no clues on the identities of the assassins.
But Porquia’s son, Lean, told LiCAS.news “the family has every reason to believe state forces had plans to kill [his father].”
He said his father has been organizing relief operations in the city for his political party, which has three representatives in Congress.
Bayan Muna’s relief operations had the support of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.
Porquia himself ran for councilor under Treñas’ slate in the 2007 elections.
Last week, policemen stopped the operation of a Bayan Muna community kitchen in the city’s Molo district.
Police insisted that under a new law on the government’s response to the pandemic, only activities of groups approved by the national inter-agency task force would be allowed.
Siegred Deduro, Bayan Muna’s vice president for the Visayas region, said the police were wrong.
“This is part of the impunity in political killings aimed at terrorizing activists critical of Duterte’s administration,” said Deduro in a statement.
He said that prior to the killing, Porquia has been warned by the police against leading relief operations and education campaign among residents in poor communities.
A former migrant worker and labor rights advocate, Porquia was student leader during the years of martial law and later a member of the National Youth Commission.
He was former local coordinator of agriculture and fisheries projects for the National Anti-Poverty Commission of the government.
“He was steadfast in his commitment to serving the people,” said the slain activist’s son.
“He never wavered despite his name surfacing in the military and police’s order of battle …. He believed in militant but legal struggle,” said Lean.
“We will always be proud of him,” added the son, adding that the government is using the fight against pandemic as “a perfect cover to hound dissenters.”
Porquia’s assassination followed the April 18 killing of peasant leader John Farochilin and the arrest of 11 others in neighboring Miag-ao town.
Authorities accused them of being members of the communist-led New People’s Army guerrillas.
Farochilin was, however, a member of his village’s council, an elected body, and chairman of the town’s peasant alliance.