Mission to probe killings, rights violations in Mindanao kicks off today; Northern Mindanao, among the focus areas

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Mission delegates in Northern Mindanao stopped in a checkpoint this morning, April 6.
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Former DAR Sec. Rafael Mariano speaks with a military officer in a checkpoint earlier this morning, April 6, in Northern Mindanao.

News Release: April 6, 2018

References: Rafael Ka Paeng Mariano, 09982898052

Cathy Estavillo, 09493466126

Cagayan de Oro City — Farmers, church workers, lawmakers and human rights advocates join the mission dubbed as Stop Killing Farmers: An International Fact-Finding Mission to Defend Filipino Peasants Land and Human Rights against Militarism and Plunder in Mindanao led Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Mindanao for Civil Liberties starting today, April 6 until April 9 in Southern Mindanao, Caraga and Northern Mindanao. The international mission is being held amid the rising cases of human rights violations (HRVs) especially against farmers and indigenous people under the Duterte administration.

“The mission aims to document the extent of state-sponsored killings and other rights abuses against farmers in Mindanao due to intensified militarization of peasant communities and expose Duterte and the state armed forces lies that no violations were committed under Martial Law,” former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary and KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Ka Paeng Mariano said.

“After Martial Law declaration, attacks against farmers, peasant women, rights defenders and peasant communities became more systematic, brutal and indifferent on the peoples clamor for genuine social change,” Mariano added.

In Northern Mindanao alone, there are 45 recorded cases of illegal arrest, 52 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation and 162 cases of forced surrender. “The AFP has been using the so-called NPA surrenderees as part of its military operations under Oplan Kapayapaan to display the success of its counter-insurgency program. However, most of them are civilian farmers engaged in the struggle to defend their rights to the land,” Mariano said.

Meanwhile, National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) Secretary General Cathy Estavillo said that “The mission intends to put faces behind the numbers. They are not mere statistics, they are humans. Among them are fellow farmers, women, mothers, and children who want nothing more but land to till enough for their families to meet their basic needs. But that simple life is being denied and ruined by their fellow Mindanaoan who promised change and development for the people of the island.”

“While cases of harassment and blockade are highly possible, we will stand firm on our just and peaceful intention of the mission. Any harassment and intimidation against the IFFSM teams will showcase the Duterte governments fascist, tyrannical and anti-people policies and programs,” Mariano said.

Joining the Northern Mindanao team are Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Partylist together with human rights and land reform advocates groups in the region, national organizations including KARAPATAN, Amihan, SINAGBAYAN, NNARA-Youth and international organizations Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Youth for Food Sovereignty (YFS) and Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP). Results of the mission will be reported in Cagayan De Oro City and Davao City on April 9 and in Manila on April 10. ###

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