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Food protest leader shot dead

Woman's murder follows food aid clashes

ucanews.com reporter, Davao City
Philippines

March 5, 2013

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A woman who survived December’s devastating Typhoon Bopha and led efforts to protest and ransack delayed food supplies from the authorities was shot and killed in Davao Oriental province on Monday.

Cristina Morales Jose, leader of Barug Katawhan, a Bopha survivors’ network, was returning home from a village council meeting in Baganga when she was shot by a lone gunman on a motorcycle, said rights group Karapatan.

Police on Tuesday said they were looking for leads on the killing as local officials declined to comment.

Jose, who was also a member of the leftist party Bayan Muna exposed a food blockade imposed by the military in areas hit by the tropical storm, many of which are hotbeds of communist rebel activity.

Bayan Muna lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate said the killing represented a “double tragedy.”

“The murder is deplorable as it was an act of cowardice, the handiwork of the devil who could not stand how she stood resolutely to end oppression of the victims or survivors of [the] typhoon,” he said.

Jose was a leading figure when survivors went to Davao, the largest city in Mindanao, where they ransacked the social welfare office last week in an attempt to seize aid they believed to be rightfully theirs.

During a standoff with police, a number of people were injured before negotiations led to a settlement which would ensure that rice and other food aid was released in stages.

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