LEGAZPI CITY: Gerlie Menchie Alpajora, Sagnay Tuna Fishers Association secretary, was gunned down while sleeping beside her two young children inside their home in Barangay Bongalon in Sangay, Camarines Sur, said Nonie Enolva, spokesperson of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Alpajora, an anti-illegal fishing advocate, was reportedly killed for providing information to local authorities as well as reporting persons involved in dynamite fishing and other forms of illegal fishing activities in their localities, Enolva told The Manila Times.
Alpajora was gunned down last July 30 and the assailant is still unidentified and still at-large, the BFAR spokesperson said.
According to Enolva, the incident was second such incident in the Bicol region since her incumbency as public information officer.
“Several fisherfolk advocates against illegal fishing were killed. The last victim was Marco Visperas, MFARMC [Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council] chairman of Aroroy Masbate. He was also the provincial fisherfolk representative of Masbate,” said Enolva.
Meanwhile, a Manila-based environment group has issued a statement condemning the killing of Alpajora.
“Oceana condemns in the strongest terms this atrocious act, and we call on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of her assassination and file charges against those accountable,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president for Oceana Philippines.
“Alpajora has dedicated her life in the service of our country and our people in furthering the goal towards sustainable fisheries. She is our hero,” Ramos added.
Joanne Binondo, project manager of Partnership Program Towards Sustainable Tuna for World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Philippines, described Alpajora as a very hard-working and committed activist.
“Despite the threats, she persisted with her work,” said Binondo, who had previously worked with Alpajora.
Bindondo said that after Alpajora’s death, several Sagnay fisherfolk association members also received threats, which were promptly reported to police authorities.
“This violation is beyond fisheries and conservation rights. This violates our human rights,” Binondo said.
Initially, the BFAR regional office is planning to provide fishing fears and marine engine to the widow of Gerlie to help and augment their source of living.