2 human rights activists shot dead in Sorsogon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 16) — Two members of human rights group Karapatan were gunned down by still unidentified motorcycle-riding men in Sorsogon City on Saturday.

In a post on Facebook, Karapatan identified the victims as Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasala.

The group said the incident occurred at around 8:20 a.m. in a subdivision in the city's Barangay Cabid-an.

It claimed that Hubilla and Bagasala were "subjected to periodic survelillance" by the military and police prior to the attack.

"Last April 21 at 10PM, said rights defenders, including Ryan, were tailed by a gray pick-up vehicle and a black motorcycle. Both vehicles had no license plates. This happened after Karapatan staff escorted Atty. Bart Rayco, NUPL-Albay lawyer, after visiting his clients who were political prisoners at PNP Cabid-an," the group said.

Karapatan condemned the killings as "a stark indication of the worsening attacks against human rights defenders."

"As we condole with the families of our dear colleagues, we raise our fists in condemnation and firmly commit to seek justice and accountability from this ruthless regime," it said.

Sorsogon governor-elect and former senator Chiz Escudero denounced the "heinous and brazen" incident and called on the PNP to look into it.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima, meanwhile, pointed out the need to investigate why the victims were subjected to periodic surveillance and if it had to do their deaths.

“The deplorable murder of two Karapatan members is nothing but an attack against all fearless warriors who fight for human rights, justice and freedom. Dalawa lamang si Ryan at Nelly sa libu-libong biktima ng karahasan at patayan sa bansa, kung saan madalas na target ang mga nasa laylayan na walang kalaban-laban, at ang mga nagtatanggol sa kanilang karapatan (Ryan and Nelly are only two of the thousands of victims of murder in the country, where the targets are often the poor who cannot fight back and those who defend their rights),” De Lima said in a statement.