Farmers to CHR: Probe NTF-ELCAC role in Norzagaray farmer slay

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to hold an impartial and independent investigation on the accountability and possible role played by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in the brutal killing of Norzagaray farmer Romeo ‘Rommy’ Torres. “We believe that the NTF ELCAC is complicit in the murder of Rommy Torres. Armed representatives of the red-tagging task force have repeatedly harassed Torres and his fellow farmers. Their brazen actions have at least emboldened the goons directly responsible for the crime,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.

Torres, a farmer from Sitio Compra, Barangay San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan, was found dead last February 5 in Mabitac, Laguna. His remains were stuffed inside a plastic drum plastered with cement and thrown in a creek. He was first reported missing three days earlier, as he failed to return home after picking bananas from his farm lot.

Torres was an active member of the Samahan ng Magsasaka sa San Mateo (SAMA-SAMA), a local organization of farmers fighting for their rights to a 75.5-hectare land in Sitio Compra. Royal Mollucan Realty Holdings Inc. assumes ownership of the said land. Through its hired agency, the NSD Elite Security Agency, Royal Moluccan has ejected farmers by burning their homes and fencing them off their farm lots since 2018. Elements of the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed in the area have abetted the private goons’ violence.

Since January 22, 2021, several local government personnel and armed men introducing themselves as representatives of the NTF ELCAC have repeatedly “visited” or summoned SAMA-SAMA farmers. The farmers were reportedly red-tagged and threatened during the said meetings.

“The cruel killing of Torres further highlights the dangers of red-tagging and the Anti-Terrorism Act. It victimizes the innocent and civilian poor merely for daring to assert their right to work and live. The NTF ELCAC, a state body, is utilizing billions of public funds to harass and incite violence and death upon farmers merely engaged in actively defending their constitutionally-guaranteed rights,” Ramos insists.

KMP appealed upon the CHR to conduct an investigation regarding the matter and to assist in the filing of charges against the perpetrators. “Discovering the degree of NTF-ELCAC’s complicity in this murder is made doubly urgent as the Supreme Court deliberates on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” Ramos ends. #

Image courtesy of GMA News. Credits to the owner.

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