LGBTQ+ community decries murder of trans woman in Abra

Several LGBTQ+ and human rights groups condemn the murder of transgender woman Estee Saway in the barangay of Lipcan, Bangued, Abra, on 28 September.

According to police reports, 38-year-old Saway, who was given the name Rudy Steward Dugmam Sayen, was followed by men on a motorcycle, who shot her multiple times in broad daylight along the Abra-Ilocos Sur Road. She was on her way to Suyo National High School, where she worked as a school nurse. She was rushed to Abra Provincial Hospital and declared dead on arrival.

LGBTQIA+ Abra demands “swift investigation and justice for the killing of one of our members.”

“Once again, it puts to light, the prejudice, hatred, and impunity that LGBTIQA+ face in their daily existence and struggles,” they said. “We call on authorities to show their might against law-breaking citizens who commit cold blooded murder in a civilized society that promotes respect and dignity for human lives.”

“We mourn Ester’s murder, which mirrors the reality the LGBTQIA+ community faces in the Philippines: discrimination, ridicule, and worse, killing. We reiterate our call for the urgent passage of legislation protecting us against discrimination and hateful crimes,” said Reyna Valmores, the chairperson of LGBTQ+ organization Bahaghari, who is also a trans woman. “Each day, the SOGIE Equality Bill and other pro-LGBTQIA+ policies languish in the desks of our legislators is a day too late to protect the community.”

The University of the Philippines Babaylan said that Saway “adds to the long list of hate crime victims against the queer community,” and also called “for a national legislation that protects LGBTQI people from gender-based violence.”

“One life lost is one too many,” they emphasized.

UP Lipad of UP Visayas in Iloilo reminds people of other victims including Ebeng Mayor, Jennifer Laude, Cindy Jones Torres, “and many more who have been killed in the most brutal of ways because of their identities and the mere fact of their existence.”

They also “remind the public that trans people ARE people, and no amount of explanation or defense on personal opinion will ever justify bigotry, hate, and violence.”

According to PANTAY (Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders), “at least 50 transgender and gender non-binary individuals have been murdered across the country,” since 2010. “However, the true death toll is certainly considerably higher,” they added.

They emphasized, “There is currently no national legislation in place to protect LGBTQIA+ people from gender-based violence. This should serve as a wake-up call and a challenge to the current administration to pass an anti-hate crime policy.”

The Far Eastern University Sexuality and Gender Alliance also clamored for laws to protect the LGBTQ+ community, saying that “(t)he longer these bills were not passed, the more lives of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially our trans brothers and sisters, are at risk from gender-related discrimination, violence, and hate crime.”

Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila Propaganda and Philippine Normal University Katalonan also released their statements of indignation and demands.

The Commission on Human Rights in the Cordillera Autonomous Region said they are currently investigating the case as they condemn “this latest incidence that tramples on the utmost right to life.”

“As the country’s Gender Ombud, we equally draw attention to this crime being committed against a member of the lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, and intersex community, which similarly demonstrates this sector’s vulnerability to persistent hate and prevalent violence,” the agency said in a statement.

They further said: “The Commission welcomes the swift action of the Abra police that enabled the immediate arrest and filing of charges against five suspects. In line with the State duty to protect the right to life, we expect truth and swift justice on this case and all similar cases of killings, especially those directed against vulnerable sectors. It is crucial that we consistently demonstrate that we are a nation of laws with high regard for human life by ensuring accountability on all cases to deter further violence and curb impunity.”

Land dispute and personal grudges are alleged to be reason for the crime.

Saway, who hailed form the barangay of Bao‑yan in the municipality of Boliney, is remembered by friends and family members as flight-hearted, helpful and softhearted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *