Death squads marked New Year’s Eve hours earlier than scheduled and in a most brutal way. They murdered Pong Alvarado (shown in photo) near his home in Ligao City, Albay and ushered in a sad new year for the Alvarado family and the people of Albay and Bicol who Pong so dearly loved. Minutes after, news spread like wildfire, eliciting cries among those who knew Pong especially among the leaders and members of Bayan Muna.
Pong Alvarado was Bayan Muna’s regional projects coordinator, Albay provincial chair and 6th nominee for partylist representative. For those not in the know, partylist groups like Bayan Muna have lists of nominees from which they choose who to sit in Congress. Each 2 percent a partylist group garners out of total partylist votes cast makes it possible to sit a representative in Congress. Yes, Pong was a congressman material, according to Bayan Muna standards. He was practically 6th in line to become Bayan Muna representative in Congress.
Thousands turned out for Pong’s funeral. The people of Ligao City grieved his violent death and even the governor of Albay expressed disgust over the dastardly crime. Pong, like the 121 other martyred members and leaders of Bayan Muna, was a respected figure in his city, province and region. Just recently, he served in the secretariat of Tabang Bikol, a relief and medical mission organized by activist groups that aimed to serve disaster-struck Bicolanos in the aftermath of supertyphoon Reming. My officemates who went to Albay for Tabang Bikol operations were shocked to hear the news on New Year’s Eve.
Also last month and also in Bicol, several other Bayan Muna members were killed.
Gil Gojol, a human rights lawyer who represented Bayan Muna and served as counsel for the communities affected by imperialist mining operations in Rapu-Rapu, was ambushed in Gubat, Sorsogon. Gojol was a respected officer of the court in Bicol, having been elected officer of the local bar association and was even a provincial board member to boot.
Francisco Bantog, a butanding interaction officer in the municipality of Donsol, Sorsogon, was at the local tourism office when he was killed. Gunmen pumped 20 bullets into Bantog, making sure he was dead. Bantog was Bayan Muna’s coordinator in Donsol.
In Irosin, Sorsogon, the Frivaldo family suffered yet another casualty in the dirty war of Mrs. Arroyo when Crisanto Frivaldo was shot dead right inside his house. Maximo Frivaldo, a municipal councilor and Bayan Muna leader was shot dead earlier last year.
These events occurred only last month and only in Bicol. The story is replicated many times in similar assassinations nationwide.
Malevolent and malignant forces who hate Bayan Muna have failed to stop the party from leading the partylist polls, and from using Congress as a platform to champion New Politics. These vile elements detest Bayan Muna’s opposition to the lying, stealing and cheating presidency and our noble aspiration of leading the people to the Politics of Change. They have failed in their political persecution and so they resort to physical elimination.
Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan.