July 5 (Reuters) – Gunmen shot dead a left-wing local government official in the central Philippines on Monday, and his party said it was a political killing that challenged a government promise of an end to a culture of impunity.
Fernando Baldomero, provincial coordinator of leftist Bayan Muna (Nation First) party and a councillor of Lezo town in central Aklan province, was shot by two men in front of his residence while preparing to take his son to school.
“We demand an immediate and thorough investigation, particularly on the involvement of military and military-backed death squads,” Teodoro Casino, Bayan Muna leader and a member of the lower house of Congress, said in a statement.
“He is the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino government,” said Casino, who did not present any evidence to back up his claim.
Bayan Muna and rights advocate groups say more than 1,000 people, mostly left-wing community organisers, farmer and labour leaders, students and journalists, have either disappeared or been murdered by suspected army death squads since 2001.
The government of President Benigno Aquino took office on Wednesday. Aquino has set up a commission to investigate his predecessor’s regime for possible wrongdoings, including corruption, election fraud and political killings. [ID:nSGE65S0F3]
Amnesty International has called on Aquino to fulfil his campaign promise to end political killings, including of journalists and witnesses in high-profile murders, as well as enforced disappearances.
“The killings must stop,” Amnesty International said in a public letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“The families of victims deserve truth and justice. Prosecution of perpetrators of extrajudicial executions can serve as a deterrent to these killings.”
On Saturday, a retired journalist was gunned down near his home in the northern Kalinga province. Police said the murder was not work related.
Last month, national police authorities said charges were filed against local politicians over the separate killings of two radio reporters and a provincial newspaper columnist. [ID:nSGE65M09M] (Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by John Mair)