Two soldiers convicted for murder after more than 10 years

A regional court in Bacolod City convicted two Philippine Army intelligence officers for the murder of activist Benjamin Bayles on March 31, 2022. In broad daylight, the two men shot Bayles – coordinator of the party-list Bayan Muna and member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente – on June 14, 2010, from a motorcycle in Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), who represented Bayles, informed about the decision on April 18, 2022: Rafael Cordova and Reygine Laus were both sentenced to “reclusion perpetua” (i.e., from 30 to a maximum of 40 years in prison) and have to pay compensation to Bayles’ family. After the Department of Justice requested the transfer of the case from Himamaylan to Bacolod City in 2019, several testimonies of eyewitnesses and circumstantial evidence led to the conviction. ‘We’re not jumping for joy. […] It is a tragedy that people have to die, get tortured, imprisoned, before you even vindicate yourself’, said Edre Olalia, NUPL president. In 2018, Benjamin Ramos, former lawyer of Benjamin Bayles and member of the NUPL, was also murdered. Olalia continues: ‘This is for you, Ben and Ben. This is a clear message and warning to those who think there is immunity for impunity. But most of all, this is for those still waiting for justice to be served.’

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