Anthony Trinidad studied physics, wanted to be an engineer but became a lawyer to help those who could not afford legal services. He was known as a low-key, soft-spoken and gentle person who barely raised his voice.
On Tuesday 23 July 2019, the 53-year-old who had been tagged as a supporter of communist rebels on Negros Island was killed in an attack by motorcycle-riding gunmen who also wounded his wife.
Trinidad was shot in broad daylight as he was driving his car in his hometown of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental province, according to Lt. Col. Bonifacio Tecson, city police chief. Trinidad’s wife, Novie Marie, also 53, took a bullet in the shoulder but survived.
Trinidad had been receiving death threats for several months before Tuesday’s attack. Trinidad had informed the Guihulngan police that he received a letter with an alleged list of people being targeted for supporting the New People’s Army (NPA).
Groups Karapatan and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers noted that Trinidad was red-tagged prior to his killing. His name was included in a flyer bearing the names of alleged supporters of communist rebels.
Cristina Palabay said the killing of Trinidad exposes that “hit lists” often translate to killings.
“This only proves as well that the perceived dangers of being arbitrarily, maliciously and baselessly red-tagged are neither imaginary nor contrived, but constitute real threats to life, liberty and security,” Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general, said.
Philippine jurisprudence defines red-tagging as “the act of labelling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy… by state agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the state.’”
In August 2018, activist Haide Flores—who was included on the same list—was gunned down.
Human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr. and former Escalante, Negros Occidental Councilor Bernandino Patigos were placed on the same poster list labelling them as terrorists before they were killed by motorcycle-riding assailants in November 2018 and April 2019, respectively.
“Hit lists are enumerations of targets. It is meant to harass, but it is also an explicit threat to one’s life. The fact that these lists include names of community leaders, activists and human rights defenders point to the conclusion that these violations are systematic and methodical,” Palabay said.
Last month, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petitions for writ of amparo and habeas data filed by Karapatan together with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Gabriela.
At least 40 judges, prosecutors and lawyers have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, according to NUPL.
Source: Inquirer / Phil Star