The Police Regional Office-Cordillera has formed a special investigation task group to probe the shooting to death on broad daylight of lawyer Ma. Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales Alzate while inside her vehicle parked in front of their house on Santiago Street, Zone 2, in Bangued, Abra on Sept. 14.
A known human rights defender, Alzate was shot by two unidentified males who fled in a motorcycle towards Barangay Consiliman in the same town. The police recovered eight bullet casings from the crime scene.
In the CCTV footage that is circulating online, the two assailants with one wearing shorts and another a blue polo shirt and both wearing a dark cap, took turns in shooting the victim.
Prior to the shooting, another person was seen curiously looking through the front seat of the car followed by the first suspect with a gun who approached the driver’s side and shot the victim at close range.
The victim was immediately brought by concerned residents to Dr. Petronilo V. Seares Sr. Memorial Hospital, but later died at around 5:05 p.m.
The Abra Police Provincial Office is conducting a hot pursuit operation against the suspects.
Maj. Daniel Pel-ey of the Abra PPO said in a radio interview the motives in the killing have yet to be established.
“Madami siyang hawak na kaso pero she is one of our human rights lawyers,” Pel-ey said of the slain lawyer.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Northern Luzon has condemned the killing, stating that Alzate is a strongly principled lawyer and an epitome of valor due to her heart to help the underprivileged and the oppressed.
“We strongly condemn this heartless attack against our sister in the profession. We staunchly urge government authorities to act swiftly in the apprehension of the perpetrators,” the IBP said.
Alzate served as the chapter president of IBP Northern Luzon for two terms and sat as a Commissioner of Bar Discipline since 2015.
Her husband, Raphiel Alzate, former acting presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 24 in Ilocos Sur and the RTC Branch 58 in Abra in a Facebook post asked the public for prayers, instead of flowers for his wife.
“I’m bringing home my wife at our house in Bangued, please omit flowers, instead say a little prayer for the repose of her soul and that justice will be served the soonest. Instead of flowers, please donate to a legal fund for the cases she is handling. Most of her cases are pro bono, so it can be used to continue the legal aid to which she dedicated when she was still alive,” Alzate said. – Ofelia C. Empian