Farmer fighting for a parcel of land found dead, stuffed in a drum

Justice for Rommy Torres!

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemns the brutal killing of farmer Rommy Torres, 52, of Sitio Compra, Barangay San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. Torres, among the farmers fighting the land grabbing of Royal Mollucan Realty Holdings Inc. in a 75.5-hectare agricultural land in Norzagaray, was first reported missing by his relatives and neighbors last February 3. Rommy was an active member of SAMA-SAMA, a local farmers group in San Mateo, Norzagaray.

Torres reportedly went out early Wednesday morning to harvest bananas inside the fenced land being grabbed by Royal Mollucan and guarded by goons led by Salvador Domagtoy of NSD Elite Security Agency. Torres’ relatives filed a blotter and reported him missing on February 4 after he failed to go home.

On February 5, Torres was found dead and stuffed in a blue drum in a creek in Mabitac, Laguna. According to a news report, he bore gunshot wounds in the mouth, chest, and back. The stench coming from the cemented drum led residents to discover the body of Torres.

“We strongly condemn this unspeakable savagery and brutality — a farmer fighting land grabbing and asserting his rights for a parcel of land was brutally killed, stuffed in a drum, and left to rot afar. Only monsters can commit this heinous crime!” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.

The peasant group shared that Rommy was known in the community as a dutiful and good-humored farmer. “Despite being reserved and quiet during peasant association meetings, he realized the importance of asserting and defending their right to the land they till. He would often go inside the fenced landholding and harvest crops for income. In 2018, he joined a local Bungkalan (collective farming) with his fellow farmers. In 2019, he got into an altercation with an alias Kaloy, leader of the security guards who mauled an elderly farmer. In 2020, goons and security guards of Royal Mollucan fired shots at Torres after he entered the fenced land to harvest banana and root crops. In the past months, he would often join Bagsakan farmers’ market wherein he would sell saba banana and banana blossoms from his parcel of land.”

The disputed 75.5-hectare is the subject of a long-standing land case which reached the Supreme Court. In 2007, the said agricultural land was ordered for Compulsory Acquisition by DAR. The DAR Adjudication Board issued a writ of execution in 2017 in favor of farmers but the DAR Region 3 issued a writ of execution for the implementation of the 2007 decision only in 2020. ###

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