NEWS RELEASE: April 5, 2018
Office of Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao, 0998-985-2143
Davao City – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao will join an international mission organized by farmers, church and multi-sectoral groups aimed to gather more data on the human rights abuses under the martial law Mindanao.
The International Fact-finding and Solidarity Mission led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) will be joined by leaders and members from various people’s organizations and party-list groups. Among those who are leading the mission are former Anakpawis representative and national president Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, former Anakpawis representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, ACT Teachers Party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.
Casilao personally noted that in Mindanao, the number of victims of extra-judicial killings already reached 125 under the Duterte administration. Most victims were from the peasant and indigenous people’s sectors.
“We are firm in our assertion that most rights abuses are agrarian or land-related. Farmers and indigenous peoples are being targeted as they are resolute in defending their rights to land,” Casilao said.
For the past years, lumad and farmer communities have been usual victims of massive military operations, aerial bombings, forcing them to evacuate from their sources of livelihood. They are usually staunch opposition of land grabbing, plantation operations, logging concessions and destructive mining operations. The latest case of the killings victimized Agudo Quillio, chairperson of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Pantukan (Humapan) in Compostela Valley province on March 20 and Gario Malibato, an activist member of Karadyawan lumad group in Kapalong town, Davao Del Norte on March 23.
According to KMP and Anakpawis – Southern Mindanao Regional Chapter, among the 125 victims of extra-judicial killings in Mindanao, among them were 36 lumads, and 68 cases were committed under the effect of martial law.
“We are ceaselessly calling for justice for the victims of the killings and abuses, though we may face threats to our safety for commencing this mission, thus, we are calling for support from various sectors, especially the media, as a deterrent against possible harassment and mishandling by government armed forces on the investigating teams,” the lawmaker said.
He avowed whatever information to be gathered from the ground would serve as basis for legislative measures such as house resolutions to push for a congressional probe on systematic abuses against farmers in Mindanao.
“While the president is floating the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, we are certain that militarists who don’t blink an eye committing abuses are authoritative on the ground, they respect no human rights, due process nor rule of law, they rule with impunity,” he added.
The organizers of the mission belatedly announced the target areas so as to avoid obstruction usually by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Three teams are being deployed to (team for Davao Region) Tagum City, Davao Del Norte and areas in Compostela Valley province, (team for Caraga region) in agrarian areas in Agusan Del Sur, (team for Northern Mindanao Region), in agrarian areas in Bukidnon. Last February, five foreign delegates including church workers of the International Solidary Mission led by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and the Mindanaoans for Civil Liberties, were accosted by elements of the police and military at a checkpoint in Koronadal City, Southern Cotabato who were suspected as being terrorists with linkage to ISIS.
“Hope us to complete our mission of documenting abuses against the people, the only camp who has the motive to disrupt us is the AFP and PNP, we appeal to the public to put much attention to our activities,” Casilao said.
Lastly, he urged the public to join pressing the government to respect the people’s basic rights, resume the stalled peace talks with the NDFP and sincerely implement the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). ###