NEWS RELEASE: April 7, 2018
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
Activist, journalist, and current convenor of Movement Against Tyranny Satur Ocampo celebrates his 79th birthday today among peasant communities as part of the Philippine delegation to the International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission in Mindanao. The delegation is split into three teams, each assigned to Caraga, Southern Mindanao Region, and Northern Mindanao Region.
Belonging to the Caraga contingent, the former Bayan Muna Partylist lawmaker emphasizes the value of this fact-finding mission organized by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Mindanao for Civil Liberties for the victims of military violence against peasants in the countryside.
“This is to seek justice for the victims,” he states. “We are here to deepen the investigation on initial reports of killings, to strengthen the cases against those who are responsible.”
He considers the Mindanao-wide mission as an extension of the series of Lakbayan efforts made previously by Lumad and peasant communities. Through such caravans, communities from disparate regions of the country exchange stories of survival and resistance, and gain a better understanding of each other’s travails under increasingly fascist conditions.
“We want to assure our farmers and victims of martial law in Mindanao that we stand in solidarity with them,” said Ka Satur, himself a victim of martial law during the Marcos regime.
“We will see this through; as soon as all reports from Caraga, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao are in, we will exhaust all available means to secure justice for all victims.”
According to KMP, these atrocities in Mindanao and other parts of the country are part of government’s counterinsurgency campaign “Oplan Kapayapaan” that tags civilian activists as members and/or supporters of armed rebel groups and are therefore “fair game” or targets of military attacks.
A total of 71 full battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are operating in Mindanao, of which 41 are focused on counterinsurgency. At least 65% of the AFP’s combat troops are said to be concentrated in Mindanao, where large-scale foreign plantations and mining concessions are to be found.
Meanwhile, former DAR secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano said that “the unabated militarization and Martial Law itself in Mindanao must be understood as a means for government, big landlords, oligarchs and multinational corporations to further bulldoze their way into the vast lands and resources of the island.”
Aside from Ocampo and Mariano, other prominent progressives, rights defenders and peace advocates have traveled to Mindanao to take part in the fact-finding and solidarity mission, including former Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, and incumbent representatives of the Makabayan bloc.
Also joining the 4-day mission are 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.#