During the past two weeks of “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ) vegetable growers in the Cordillera Administrative Region already faced difficulties in transporting agricultural products and getting past checkpoints set up by local government units, in order to sell in town centers, the city, and trading posts.
The regional secretariat of our peasant federation, APIT TAKO or Alyansa Dagiti Mannalon Ti Tiang Kordilyera, has been monitoring the situation but we have yet to determine what we can and should do about the information we have gathered.
Should we, and can we, organize a produce delivery network that will involve both our membership and the masses of unorganized farmers, truckers, and jeepney drivers in the Cordillera? And should we, and can we, organize teams to assist truckers and jeepney drivers in negotiating at local government checkpoints?
Will such acts be construed as so-called “unnecessary efforts” in mass organizing? We ask this in light of Cordillera Director Police Brigadier General R’win Pagkalinawan’s order for police snipers to “shoot communist organizers who unnecessarily organize the masses.”
What exactly does Police Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan mean when he says “organizing the masses”? Will it be up to each Cordillera police unit to determine whether the organizing is “necessary” or “unnecessary?” How will units determine this?
Further, how will the unit determine whether the organizing is done by a “communist?” When the police snipers shoot, will they ask first, or try and find out later, whether their targets are indeed communists?
Clearly, Pagkalinawan’s order is derived from President Duterte’s “shoot them dead” pronouncement, made carelessly and irresponsibly, in the wake of the San Roque incident. Pagkalinawan’s statement itself is careless and irresponsible.
Not only does it threaten civil liberties and the exercise of human rights, it also attempts to intimidate and hamper initiatives of individuals or organizations who want to help address problems caused by Covid19 and the ECQ. It adds unnecessary burdens to the already grave sufferings and anxieties faced by the people of Cordillera.
Even before the Luzon lockdown, APIT TAKO and other progressive organizations in Cordillera were subjected to malicious red-tagging by the local Philippine National Police. The provincial police director of Mountain Province even apologized to several people’s organizations in the Cordillera after police in Sagada town distributed flyers branding several people’s groups as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines
We call on our fellow farmers and human rights defenders to raise their voices in protest against Pagkalinawan’s “shoot-to-kill” order. Farmers and the people need urgent aid and not further suppression.
APIT TAKO (Our Harvest)
Peasant sectoral formation within the multi-sectoral Cordillera Peoples Alliance
Regional chapter, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas