A Cebu City human rights worker who was organizing families of victims of the government’s so-called war on drugs was himself killed in a brazen daytime attack on board a jeepney Wednesday, August 8.
Human rights defender and Rise Up-Cebu volunteer Butch Rosales, 45, was shot in broad daylight was on his way to Mandaue, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.
He boarded a multicab jeepney and sat at the front passenger seat while the assailant sat at the back.
The gunman shot Rosales at the head several times and took off on a waiting getaway motorcycle driven by another man. The unidentified perpetrators did not bother to wear masks.
A veteran activist, Rosales worked as an urban poor and labor organizer before he became a volunteer of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.
Rise Up is a network of volunteers and rights defenders committed to work in the defense of life and protection of human rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings and violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.
Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights condemned Rosales’ killing, blaming the culture of impunity under the Duterte government for the widespread killing of suspected drug users as well as human rights defenders.
“With the rising number of killings conducted with impunity in Cebu, Rosales was killed in the same manner that suspected drug users have been killed in the conduct of the Duterte regime’s drug war, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
“This case reveals the brazenness of perpetrators – a result of the assurances given by the regime to these killers and the prevailing impunity that lingers after the killings,” Palabay noted.
Fellow activist Dyan Gumanao of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cebu said Rosales was “cool and kind” who always asked how his colleagues and friends were doing.
“He was like an elder brother to me. He makes it a point to share with us his experiences in organizing urban poor communities,” Gumano said.
Rosales’ former colleague Yoyong Suarez said his long-time friend was always in the frontline defending urban poor communities against demolition and development aggression in Cebu.
“In the Philippines, individuals who assert their right to live will [themselves] be deprived of their right to life,” Suarez said.
“The Duterte regime’s witch-hunt against government critics and the continuing culture of impunity are blatant rights violation against the people. Justice for Butch Rosales and all victims of Duterte’s war against the poor!,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)