Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for swift justice following the gunning down of an activist and mother of three in Davao City in the Philippines earlier this week.

Cristina Jose, a councilor from Baganga and a mother of three, had been leading protests against the government’s withholding of relief aid to survivors of Typhoon Bopha –  dubbed ‘Pablo’ in the Philippines – before she was killed on Monday evening.

Philippines Typhoon

Cristina Jose worked on behalf of survivors of December's Typhoon Bopha. Pic: AP.

Jose was head of a protest group called Barug Katawhan which supported communities left ravaged by the tropical storm which struck the southern island of Mindanao in December, devestating the city of Baganga and affecting the lives of millions of people.

According to reports she left a council meeting and was on her way to Davao City when three men pulled alongside her motorbike and shot her dead.

Jose was on her way to report a recent incident of blacklisting by members of the security forces of typhoon victims when she was shot. She was riding with her 11-year-old daughter and niece, who managed to get her to a nearby clinic where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Since 2001 hundreds of activists, journalists and clergy have been killed by alleged members of the security forces in the Philippines. Although extrajudicial killings fell in 2012, Human Rights Watch said little progress had been made in bringing perpetrators to justice: not a single case has resulted in prosecution since President Aquino came to office.
HRW says the killing of Jose is “consistent” with similar extra judicial killings in the past.

“This latest incident not only states the obvious – that extra judicial killings are still happening – but underscores the need for the Aquino administration to make good on its promise to end impunity by bringing perpetrators to justice,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Carlos Conde.

Protests were held at the end of February in Davao City where more than 5,000 angry Pablo victims stormed the regional office of the DSWD, bringing relief goods to the streets.

Local human rights groups such as Karapatan and Gabriela believe Jose’s involvement in those protests may have led to her being singled out by the security forces.

“The circumstances surrounding her murder is suggestive of the ways gunmen kill citizens who have been branded as enemies of the state for criticising corrupt, unjust and inhumane government programs and policies,” a statement from Gabriela said.