Farmers and lumad in Northern Mindanao continue to assert land rights amid Martial Law abuses

News Release: April 8, 2018

Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Malaybalay City – Despite harassment and intimidation encountered by the fact-finding team in Northern Mindanao, the team composed of farmers, lumad, lawmakers, church people, human rights advocates and defenders led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) successfully conducted interviews and focused group discussions to investigate various forms of rights violations particularly against peasants and indigenous people in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate noted that based on the team’s investigation, farmers and lumads become targets of AFP’s counter-insurgency campaign. They are being accused as NPA members or supporters and charged with trumped-up cases simply because of their active participation in land struggles and affiliation in peasant organizations.

Zarate emphasized that through these atrocities against farmers, the AFP and its paramilitary troops are protecting the interests of landlords and oligarchs to secure local and foreign investments and exploit the vast lands and resources not only of the region but the entire island.

For his part, ACT Teachers’ Representative Antonio Tinio condemned the red-baiting and the systematic threat, harassment, intimidation and coercion by the military forces against farmers.

“AFP’s all-out war and militarization campaign clearly violates international humanitarian laws as proven by the results of our mission. Military forces encamp in public facilities within the communities while lumad schools are tagged as NPA schools which create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation,” Tinio said.

“Martial Law has only worsened the situation of farmers and farmworkers in Northern Mindanao who are already burdened by landlessness, high land rent, lack of government support services, continued killings and rights abuses,” KASAMA-Bukidnon Chairperson Winnie Loable said.

3 battalions of AFP are deployed in the region including 88th and 8th IB based in Bukidnon and the 58th IB in Misamis Oriental. KMP-NMR recorded 5 extra-judicial killings from January 2017- March 2018.

Meanwhile, former DAR Secretary and KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano challenged the Duterte government to prioritize deliberations on the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms) upon the resumption of peace talks.

“CASER has outlined major and doable policy shifts that the government should undertake to achieve meaningful social change if only Duterte is sincere in achieving just and lasting peace and has the political will to support and implement genuine socio-economic reforms,” Mariano said.

Mariano added that both panels have already united on the principle of free land distribution to the tillers.

“But these gains were squandered by the Martial Law declaration and the intensified military operations in peasant communities. While we welcome the possible resumption of peace talks, the Duterte government should express it’s sincerity by pulling out military and paramilitary troops in the communities and lifting Martial Law in Mindanao.”

According to KMP-NMR, farmers organizations in the region are valiantly asserting and defending their rights to land and self-determination through land cultivation areas (LCAs) such as the case of BTL in Maramag and Tindoga in Quezon which covers hundreds of hectares of land.

“Farmers are compelled to strengthen and expand LCAs as long as the government fails to address the roots of the armed conflict,” Mariano said.

The team visited the Tindoga community in Quezon yesterday and expressed the delegation’s support on their struggle for land and food security.

Also joining the mission team in the region are Barug Katungod, KARAPATAN, Amihan, SINAGBAYAN, NNARA-Youth and international organizations Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS) 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.

References:

Rafael “Ka Paeng Mariano, 09982898052

Hazel Ramirez, 09204896066

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