Statement of Dr Walden Bello, Amnesty International Philippines’ Most Distinguished Defender of Human Rights Awardee

The Philippines is not safe for advocates of human rights. This is the tragic reality that we confront in the wake of the recent assassination of Atty. Maria Saniata Gonzales Alzate, who was shot in broad daylight in front of her house in Abra.

As the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) reports, this is the third murder of a lawyer under the Marcos administration. Atty. Alzate was a fearless public interest lawyer who spent much of her career providing pro bono legal services to those in need. Earlier this year, she secured legal protection for a victim of illegal arrest, detention, and torture by members of the Philippine National Police. We pay tribute to her not just by mourning but also by continuing our fight for justice. Contrary to his posturing and statements otherwise, President Marcos Jr has inherited the shameful culture of impunity that worsened under Rodrigo Duterte. All attacks against human rights lawyers and defenders are blows against the very fabric that holds our society together.

We must stop the attacks and killings of legal practitioners! Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings! End the culture of impunity now!#