Humanitarian worker killed in ambush was at “wrong place, wrong time”

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 06 May) — A humanitarian worker who rode with her municipal councilor-mother and another councilor from South Upi in Maguindanao, was killed while the two councilors were wounded in an ambush Saturday afternoon in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Betsy Yap, a nurse who worked at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s  Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (ARMM-HEART) died on the way to the Notre Dame hospital, the bullets she took reportedly intended for someone else.

“Because of politics, a bright young woman who has quietly given the past four to five years of her life to humanitarian service in the ARMM  had her life snuffed out of her by a lone gunman whose bullets were intended for someone else,”  ARMM Executive Secretary and concurrent Social Welfare Secretary Laisa Alamia wrote on her Facebook page.

“She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, people say,” Alamia added.

Betsy Yap, a nurse who worked at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s  Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (ARMM-HEART) was killed in an ambush on May 5, 2018 in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. Colleagues say Yap was not the intended victim and just happened to be at the “wrong place, wrong time.” Photo from Betsy Yap’s FB page

Initial police reports said the victims riding in a maroon Mitsubishi Lancer vehicle had just come from South Upi in Maguindanao when a gunman fired at them using a caliber .45 pistol at around 4:10 p.m. along Barangay Tenorio in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

According to the municipal police station of Datu Odin Sinsuat, the gunman fled towards Upi town.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman  condemned the “senseless violence.”

“Killings have no place in a functioning democracy. As the people prepare to exercise their democratic rights in the upcoming barangay elections, acts of violence committed against public servants carry a chilling effect that go against the very grain of what democratic institutions stand for,” Hataman said.

The nurse-humanitarian worker had spent four years at the ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team.

“Our humanitarian workers are at the frontlines in providing basic social services, and form the core of our emergency response in times of conflict and calamity. It is their commitment to ensuring the rights and welfare of the Bangsamoro people that enables the regional government to deliver services needed in the peripheries,” said Hataman.

He called on local government and law enforcement units to “exert all efforts in ensuring that the killer will be brought to justice.”

“Responding to the Bangsamoro’s most urgent needs is a fundamental part of our mandate as elected government officials, and all attacks against our humanitarian workers are attacks against the people,” he said, adding they “cannot stand idly by as our humanitarian workers are threatened by violence, and as our elected officials are threatened because of those who want to wrestle power away from those who hold the people’s mandate – most especially when these are direct threats against our hard won democracy.”  (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)