State terror reigning in peasant communities, farmer-activists arrested in Negros Occidental and Northern Samar

Junk Memo Order 32 and Executive Order 70!

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas condemned the illegal arrest of Gaspar ‘Tay Aldong’ Davao, 55 years old, a leader of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Northern Negros.

According to Butch Lozande, on Tuesday evening after their meeting at the BAYAN office in Bacolod City, Davao and his colleague Ernie Militar of the Northern Negros Human Rights Alliance, rode a passenger van going home which passed a routine checkpoint in Cadiz City. At the checkpoint, the police instructed all passengers to alight the van. After the inspection, Davao was apprehended because the police said he was COVID positive. Davao was forcibly brought to the PNP Cadiz station where planted evidences including cash and hand grenade were claimed by the police to have been in his possession.

“We are suspecting that the police were waiting for Davao since the checkpoint was manned by joint forces of the PNP and the 79th IBPA. Cadiz City Chief of Police Roberto Mansueto was also giving the orders,” according to Lozande.

This morning, the PNP Cadiz presented Davao to the local media as a high-ranking official of the New People’s Army, along with subversive materials, multiple cellphones, and other paraphernalia.

“This style and pattern of operation bears the mark of the NTF-ELCAC. They are fulfilling their regular quota of arrested NPA leaders and members, and activist-farmers are the easiest targets for them,” says Tanggol Magsasaka spokesperson Antonio Flores as he noted that several farmers were also arrested and accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives after they were red-tagged and linked to the NPA. 

Flores said the same incident happened last June 1 in Barangay Logging, Las Navas, Northern Samar where two farmers and one minor were apprehended by members of the 803rd IBPA. Those arrested include peasant leader Carlos Baluyot of the Alyansa san mga Parag-uma Kontra-kagutom san Las Navasnon, farmer Alvino Lucapa, and a minor identified as Jake Dela Cruz.

According to witnesses, some 70 soldiers of the 803rd IBPA were conducting reconnaisance operations in the village when they chanced upon the three victims who were on their way to the farm lot. The soldiers blindfolded Baluyot and Lucapa and hogtied Dela Cruz and they were forcibly arrested. The military planted explosives as evidence and preposterously alleged that the victims belonged to a bomb making unit of the NPA. They are now detained at a local police station.

Baluyot is a local peasant leader actively leading Las Navas farmers and residents in seeking government aid and resisting military encampment in Las Navas villages. Their association and the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association were constantly red-tagged and vilified by the 20th IBPA as ‘communist fronts.’ 

“Farmers are either killed or arrested based on mere suspicion that they are NPA fighters or supporters. From March to May this year, at least nine farmers from Masbate and Sorsogon in Bicol were summarily executed by different AFP units in the course of military operations falsified as ‘encounters’ with the NPA.   

“State terror already reigns in peasant communities. Memorandum Order No. 32 is still imposed in Samar, Negros and Bicol. This dire situation will worsen once the dreaded Anti-Terror Bill becomes a law. We will never allow that. We will fight tyranny and Duterte’s Terror Bill,” says Flores.

KMP and Tanggol Masasaka will join the Grand Mananita protest on Friday to denounce state terror and the atrocities of the mercenary PNP and AFP. ###

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