British baron's daughter killed in Philippines amid drug war

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The victim was known to authorities

The daughter of a late British baron has been shot dead in the Philippines which is fighting a war on drugs.

Maria Aurora Moynihan's body was found on the street on 10 September next to a sign reading "drug pusher to the celebrities you're next!"

Baron Anthony Moynihan was linked to drug smuggling, fraud and prostitution.

More than 3,000 people with alleged links to drug use or dealing have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in June.

Mr Duterte, who once promised to kill 100,000 criminals, has brushed off criticism of the bloody crackdown, including by the UN, which said the killings could be crimes under international law, the US, and numerous human rights bodies.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
A sign reading "drug pusher to the celebrities you're next" in Tagalog and English was found next to the body

Maria Aurora Moynihan, 45, had been on bail after being arrested in a drug raid in 2013.

"Witnesses told us they heard a series of gunshots, then saw a vehicle leaving the area," Chief Inspector Tito Jay Cuden told AFP news. Authorities said packs of methamphetamine were found with her body.

CCTV footage from the area where Ms Moynihan's body was found showed a vehicle stop and open its door along a deserted street. A police investigation has begun.

Ms Moynihan was also the sister of Filipino celebrity Maritoni Fernandez.

Ms Fernandez called for privacy so that "we as a family may take this time to grieve, mourn but most of all celebrate the life of this exceptional human being I will forever have the privilege of calling my sister".

Who was Baron Moynihan?

Baron Moynihan took his seat in the UK's House of Lords in the mid-1960s after the death of his father, saying: "I have every intention of shaking this place up. The sparks will fly."

While a lord, he married Philippine dancer Luz de la Rossa Fernandez and left the UK for Manila amid allegations of gambling debts and fraud.

In the Philippines, he was linked to the ownership of a number of brothels, as well as the drugs trade.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Lord Moynihan married Ms Fernandez in 1968, while a member of the House of Lords

Eventually, he became a target of a number of law enforcement agencies, including the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which reportedly enlisted his help in the capture of notorious Welsh drug smuggler Howard Marks.

He died of a heart attack in Manila in 1991, aged 55. He left behind two sons who might have inherited his title. Genetic evidence, however, showed that the older boy was not Baron Moynihan's son, and the younger was born of a bigamous marriage.

The House of Lords eventually awarded the title to his half-brother Colin Moynihan, a Conservative politician.