Killings, arrests of farmers and peasant leaders continue

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemns the illegal arrest of peasant leaders Jun Guinanao, chairperson of KMP provincial chapter KASAMA-Bukidnon, June Makute of local  farmers’ group Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL), Danilo Menente and Albert Tanallion.

At around 9am today, the peasant leaders were in a lobbying-dialogue with Bukidnon 3rd District Rep. Manuel Zubiri to raise the issues affecting farmers and sectors in the province particularly the unresolved peasant killings in Bukidnon, trumped-up charges filed against farmers and activists, demand for production and agricultural subsidies, opposition to the demolition of urban poor communities in Purok 5, Maramag, among other concerns.

After the dialogue, the peasant leaders were apprehended by soldiers of the 88th Infantry Batallion and were forcibly taken to the Philippine Army camp in Maramag town. The military preposterously accused KASAMA-Bukidnon and the peasant leaders of “harboring wounded NPA rebels” at the BTL farm in Maramag.

The four peasant leaders are active in leading land rights campaigns in the province. Farmers from the BTL have maintained their collective farm and have made productive a 500-hectare portion of the Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Maramag, Bukidnon. The CMU wants the BTL farmers evicted in order to lease out these lands to multinational corporations and agribusiness plantations.

In 2019, 17 farmers and indigenous people were killed in Bukidnon province alone.

KMP urges Rep. Manuel Zubiri to aid in the release of the KASAMA-Bukidnon leaders and members. “We condemn this latest state-sponsored attack against farmers asserting for democratic rights. Martial Law in Mindanao was supposedly lifted but threats, harassment and intimidation are still rampant,” says KMP leader Danilo Ramos.

Rights violations vs. farmers on the rise

KMP also condemned the killing of farmer Pelagio Compoc, who was tending his carabao yesterday, January 22, when he was shot five times with a .45 caliber handgun by still unknown assailants. Pelagio is an active barangay tanod and member of HUMABOL, KMP’s chapter in Bohol.  Compoc have been the subject of surveillance activities and harassment prior to his killing.

In Northern Samar province, three farmers have been killed by soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines according to a report of Katungod Northern Samar. Farmer Garci Anquilan of Brgy. Balite, San Isidro, Northern Samar was shot dead along the highway near his house on December 3, 2019. In Brgy. Quezon, Catarmanm village chief Bonnie Cardenas was killed last December 23 while he was on his way home after attending a meeting of the Liga ng mga Barangay. The latest victim of extra-judicial killing in Northern Samar is Jennifer Tonog, a barangay councilor of Brgy. Sumuroy, Lope de Vega, who was shot twice in Brgy. Ipil-ipil, Catarman, after attending a meeting conducted by the DILG.

On January 16, Pamfilo Gabani Labong, 69 years old, a resident of Brgy. Calundan, San Jorge, Samar was illegally arrested while tending his farm. Elements of the 87th IBPA under commanding officer 1st Lt. Estomata together with two police officers served a defective arrest warrant from 2009 and 2010, accusing Labong of committing attempted murder. He was brought to the military camp in Brgy. Irinas, San Jorge where he was interrogated. Labong testified that he was hit in the chest by one of the interrogators. Katungod Northern Samar also reported that members of the 43rd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army burned the house of Raul Deantonio of Brgy. Rowas, Lope de Vega last January 17.

“We call on the immediate release of the arrested farmers and peasant leaders,” Ramos concluded. #

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