NEWS RELEASE: April 6, 2018
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
For peace talks to continue, AFP must stop militarization of peasant communities, pull-out troops
Butuan City – The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today said that if the government is indeed sincere on its intention to resume the peace talks, it must first order the pull-out of military troops from peasant communities.
“Seven battalions are deployed in Caraga region. The nonstop and escalating militarization is affecting farmers. Farmers become victims of constant threat, harassment and intimidation by AFP troops. In the entire Mindanao where Martial Law is enforced, farmers bear the brunt of state-sponsored human rights abuses,” says Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.
In fact, participants of the ongoing International Fact-Finding Mission to Defend Filipino Peasants’ Land and Human Rights Against Militarism and Plunder in Mindanao experienced first-hand harassment upon arrival at the Bancasi Airport in Butuan City.
At least five military intelligence agents were waiting at the airport with a ‘welcome banner’ with a warning that says “Just Do It Right”. The unidentified and suspicious-looking men were taking photos and videos of IFFSM participants.
The IFFSM convoy was tailed from the airport to Butuan City highway by a Black Toyota Hi-Lux with an unverified LTO plate number ABF1165. Two men were onboard the car. Along the highway, additional two motorcycles with riding-in-tandem tailed the convoy. “A clear intimidation and surveillance,” described KMP Secretary General Antonio Flores.
The four-day mission aims probe the extend and forms of state-sponsored killings and human rights abuses against farmers in and peasant communities in Southern Mindanao Region, Caraga, and Northern Mindanao Region.
The mission also aims to expose the situation of Filipino farmers under the Duterte administration particularly the violations on civil and political rights and socio-economic and cultural rights of farmers.
“We also intend to gather broad support for the campaign to release farmers and peasant leaders that are red-tagged, illegally arrested and detained by the government,” said PAMALAKAYA chair Fernando Hicap.
“Sixty-five percent of AFP’s troops are in Mindanao with more than 71 full battalions wreaking havoc on civilians,” says Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.
So far, the peasant group has documented 115 incidents of extrajudicial killing of farmers and peasant leaders. Those who were killed were farmers resisting land grabbing, asserting genuine land reform and fighting against militarization.
Joining the mission in the caraga region are Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) convenor and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago. Aside from the Caraga region, the international fact finding mission has also sent contingents to the Southern Mindanao and Northern Mindanao regions.
Also part of the island-wide fact-finding mission teams are former DAR secretary Rafael Mariano, the Makabayan bloc, rights defenders and peace advocates from local and international people’s organizations and civil society groups. The KMP and the Mindanao for Civil Liberties are leading the mission which also include delegates from the Asian Peasant Coalition, PAN Asia Pacific, People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS) Commission 6, Youth for Food Sovereignty (YFS), KARAPATAN, and Tanggol Magsasaka.#
References: KMP SecGen Antonio Flores – 0921-2726682
IFFSM-Caraga Media Liaison – Nadja De Vera, 0916-243684