Peasant leader killed in Northern Samar, unbridled fascism reigns even during pandemic

“We strongly condemn the brutal killing of Allan ‘Mano Boy’ Aguilando, 42 years old and peasant leader of Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA). Aguilando was gunned down yesterday morning, May 26, in Barangay Rizal, Catarman, Northern Samar by elements of the 43rd Infantry Battalion in an alleged encounter,” according to farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Aguilando, more known as Mano Boy in peasant communities, has led campaigns to advance the interests of farmers, especially the clamor for agricultural aid in Northern Samar where farmers have become severely vulnerable to the effects of both natural disasters and militarization. In 2017, Mano Boy joined and led the Stand With Samar caravan that mobilized farmers from Samar island to the National Capital Region to demand immediate aid from the national government. Mano Boy have been subjected to nonstop harassment and intimidation, and grave threats from the military ever since.

Based on initial reports from KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas (KARAPATAN Eastern Visayas), the Armed Forces of the Philippines tagged Aguilando as a New People’s Army leader in a futile attempt to justify his brutal killing — an old yet enraging tactic of state mercenaries.

Peasant killings and human rights violations escalated in Samar provinces since the implementation of MO 32 in 2018. Aguilando is the 251st farmer-victim of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte regime.

“We condemn this latest heinous act against farmers. We call on all citizens to collectively condemn the government’s outright disregard of human rights, and the prevailing fascism at this time of pandemic,” according to KMP leader Danilo Ramos.

Ramos also cited several peasant extra judicial killings that happened during the COVID-19 lockdown. On March 17, young peasant advocate and artist Marlon Madlos was killed in broad daylight in Tagbilaran City, Bohol after he was subjected to constant red-tagging, vilification, and harassment by elements of the 47th Infantry Batallion. On March 31, peasant woman leader Nora Apique of the Kapunungan sa Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur was shot to death by armed men. On April 18, peasant leader John Farochilin, a council member of PAMANGGAS-KMP and local leader of Alyansa sang Mangunguma sa Miag-ao was killed by soldiers from the 61st Infantry Battalion, also in an alleged encounter in Iloilo.

Aside from the peasant killings, KMP and human rights watchdog Tanggol Magsasaka also documented several cases of illegal arrests and detention, militarization of peasant communities, aerial bombings, and other human rights abuses in peasant communities since the imposition of the quarantine. ###

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