By Visayas Today
Escalante City Councilor Bernardino “Toto” Patigas was murdered Monday afternoon, April 22, by still unidentified gunmen.
A worker of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, with which Patigas had long been associated with, confirmed the murder, saying the councilor died of a gunshot to the forehead.
Reports said Patigas, 72, had been campaigning with other candidates in the May 13 elections but decided to return to the city center ahead of his companions, driving his motorcycle.
As he passed by the Escalante National High School at around 4:30 p.m., two men waved at him.
When Patigas slowed down, they opened fire, hitting him in the leg and, as he fell, finished him off with the headshot.
Patigas was a survivor of the September 20, 1985 Escalante massacre, when government forces opened fire on protesters staging a protest against the Marcos dictatorship. Twenty protesters were killed.
For years, he was an active human rights advocate and continued to support the advocacy even after he joined politics.
Human rights group Karapatan, of which NNAHRA is an affiliate, called Patigas “the 48th Karapatan worker killed in the course of his human rights advocacy.”
Bayan Muna said he had also been its coordinator in Escalante City since 2010.
Despite the constant vilification as well as a number of trumped up cases filed against him, Patigas remained a respected and popular figure in Escalante.
In April 2018, Patigas’ name and picture was included among some 60 individuals in a poster of alleged rebels that was hung in a central Negros town. Also on that poster was human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos, who would be murdered in Kabankalan City on November 6.