Human rights lawyer, two others survive ambush try

The bullet-riddled car of human rights lawyer Criselda Azarcon.

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

A member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) was unscathed after motorcycle-riding suspects peppered their car with bullets morning of Sept. 23, 2019 at Sigma, Capiz.

Human rights lawyer Criselda Azarcon, 49, of Barangay Bolo, Roxas City, just came from a court hearing in Dao town when the gun attack happened.

Azarcon was with her daughter, Angelica Katrina Heredia, 26, and her client, Jimmy Dordas, 55, a government employee and resident of Barangay Batabat, Maayon, when the incident happened.

Heredia was driving the white Toyota Fortuner SUV with her mother on the front passenger seat and Dordas on the second row seat.

The two motorcycle-riding suspects shot them as they were navigating an access road at Barangay Malapad Cogon.

Police Captain Christian Mahometano, Sigma police chief, said the suspects tailed the trio and saw an opportune time to attack them as they slowed down in a part of the road that was under repair.

The backrider alighted from the motorcycle, went to the right side of the vehicle, and opened fire.

The driver also shot the vehicle from his side.

“The bullets were aimed at the second row seat of the vehicle,” Mahometano said.

Luckily, Dordas was able to see the two suspects before they sprayed bullets on the vehicle.

He ducked and fired once while Heredia sped off going to Panit-an Police Station, the nearest station from the crime scene.

Mahometano said the suspects also fled to the opposite direction, either to Sigma or Dao.

Dordas was treated at Panitan Rural Health Unit due to graze wounds on the neck.

While there could be several angles on the case, it appeared that Dordas was the target, Mahometano said.

“All bullets were directed at him,” he said.

Police recovered nine empty ammunition shells.

Even Dordas admitted that there have been threats on his life since 2014.

But he did not discuss if it was due to the land dispute where Azarcon was his lawyer.

“He told us that he was very cautious of his security. But that time, they were talking about some documents that he wasn’t able to notice that a vehicle was tailing them,” Mahometano said.

As this developed, Police Colonel Canilo Fuentes, Capiz police chief, said it appeared that the suspects are guns-for-hire.

In the meantime, there’s no need to form a special investigation task group to probe the incident.

Instead, he augmented the Sigma Police Station’s investigation team to aid in identifying the suspects behind the shooting incident.



But if Azarcon is to be asked, it’s also possible that she could be the target of the assassination attempt.

Kun military man sini ang nag-perpetrate or indi, isa lang buot silingon sina, tungod sa na-ubra ni Duterte nga naga-initiate siya, ga popularize sya, naga encourage siya sang culture of impunity, ti lantawa, granting nga indi ni military ang nag target sini sa amon, wala na nahadlok ang iba nga magpamatay na lang bisan sin-o mo kay wala man may ginahimo,” she said.

(Whether the military perpetrated this or not, because of what Duterte does wherein he initiates, he popularizes, he encourages the culture of impunity, even if the military did not do this to us, but it makes people not afraid of killing because nothing has been done.)

Azarcon said that killing is now an everyday happening.

“Now, that I am the victim, I’m condemning this administration for what had happened to me. Anything could be a possible reason but just because I’m a human rights lawyer, do I deserve this?” she said.

Azarcon said she did not offend anyone to deserve being assassinated.

Directing her ire to their assailants, “kun kabati ka man nga tonto ka nga mag ambush sa akon, upod ko anak ko, unarmed kami. Kun military ka, didto ka kadto sa West Philippine Sea,” she said.

(Whoever you are who did this to me, I’m with my daughter. We’re unarmed. If you’re a military man, you should go to the West Philippine Sea, instead.)

Azarcon went emotional as she stressed that she did nothing bad to this country to deserve this.

She also called on Capiznons to “pray for us to be delivered from all this evil.”