MANILA - Oceana Philippines condemned the killing of a fisheries advocate in Camarines Sur in July.
Gerlie Menchie Alpajora, 33, was gunned down in front of her two sons on July 29 in Sagñay, Camarines Sur.
In a statement, the group said police investigation on Alpajora's death cited the victim's work against illegal fishing as the motive for the killing.
"Oceana condemns in the strongest terms this atrocious act, and we call on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of her assassination and file charges against those accountable. Alpajora has dedicated her life in the service of our country and our people in furthering the goal towards sustainable fisheries. She is our hero," lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice-President for Oceana Philippines, said.
Alpajora was the secretary of Sagñay Tuna Fishing Association (STFA), a community organization that assists law enforcers in monitoring fish catch and illegal fishing in the area.
"The killing of Alpajora has a great connection to her work, particularly her advocacy against illegal fishing," according to the police report about the incident. According to the police, Alpajora had received threats a week before she was killed, after she gave information to authorities that led to the arrest of illegal fishers in Sagñay.
Alpajora was very active in raising public awareness about illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF). She also gave seminars about government fisheries programs, such as the registration of boats and fisherfolk, and conducted information campaigns in the villages around Lagonoy Gulf, one of the country’s major fishing grounds.
Joanne Binondo, Project Manager of Partnership Program Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) for WWF-Philippines, said some other members of STFA also received threats after Alpajora's death.
"This violation is beyond fisheries and conservation rights. This violates our human rights," Binondo said.
A report made in 2014 by Global Witness, a group that seeks to shed light on the links between environmental exploitation and human rights abuses, cited the Philippines as the deadliest country in Asia for environment activists. The Philippines ranks third in the world with the highest number of slain environment advocates, at 67 deaths since 2002.