We, in the human rights umbrella KARAPATAN-Cebu, is concerned over the fatal shooting of an outspoken urban poor resident in the fire-stricken Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City last Wednesday night.
While it is still early to paint motive and pinpoint suspects, owing largely to typical snail-paced police investigation, the killing of Virgilio Gabiana, 67, could inflame the volatile situation in the disputed area owned by the University of the Philippines, occupied by the urban poor settlers, and encroached in by the City Hall politicos. The killing adds an unstable element to an explosive mix, which will only leave the urban poor community in further ruins. It also foretells of the dangerous prospects should the dispute not settled with the dignity and rights of the urban poor community in mind.
Regardless of the motive and perpetrators involved, the vigilante-style killing is an indictment of the reinforced police force in Cebu to maintain “law and order” amidst the Sinulog revelries. With 1,700 more police officers in town, it is humiliating fact that this throng could not protect urban poor communities from motorcycle-riding gunmen.
Lest the police forget, the urban poor communities are body of Christ too. The urban poor residents are devotees too of the Sto.Nino.