Civilians are targets
On the second session of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the controversial RA 11 479, farmers said grounds for its junking become even more fortified with the latest killings and fabricated criminal cases against activists.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said at least three farmers were killed since January this year and several others were slapped with trumped-up charges as a result of the government’s continuing implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
KMP maintains that the majority of peasant killings happen under the pretext of the government’s counterinsurgency and anti-terrorism policies that target even civilians and farmers who fight for their right to the land.
Rommy Torres of Bulacan was killed on Feb 3, purportedly by goons and guards of land grabber Royal Moluccan. The private army in Norzagaray, Bulacan is emboldened by NTF-ELCAC elements who are harassing farmers in the community. Torres was an active member of Samahang Magsasaka ng San Mateo (Sama-Sama), a local affiliate of KMP.
Antonio Arellano Cano, a local sugar worker in Escalante City, Negros Occidental was gunned down on February 2 by armed assailants. Thirteen shells of .45 caliber gun were recovered at the crime scene in Sitio Binabono. He was the leader of Paghiliusa sa Mangunguma sa Sitio Binabono, a local chapter of the National Federation of Sugar Workers.
Vernel Mondreal, the municipal coordinator of KAMAAN or Katilingban sang Mangunguma sa Antique, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding killers on his way to work last January 21. KAMAAN is the local affiliate of KMP’s regional chapter PAMANGGAS.
The said peasant organizations are red-tagged in their communities and as a result, became open targets of state-sponsored violence.
“These incidents add to state-sanctioned killings that are perpetrated by either private armies and goons, auxiliary and multiplier forces of the AFP, PNP, and paramilitaries,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP
Peasant leaders Nelson Lumantas, Joemar Pogio of HUMABOL-KMP in Bohol, and Reynaldo Gameng of DAGAMI-KMP in Isabela are all facing fabricated cases of murder after they were unjustly implicated in various alleged encounters between the New People’s Army and government forces that has killed police officers.
Four activists from Caraga region were rounded-up and arrested last February 6 — Vilma Dalangin Yecyec, 72 years old; Gina Tutor, coordinator of Gabriela Women’s Partylist; Greco Regala of Pamalakaya-Agusan del Norte; and Isaias “Sayas” Ginorga of PISTON-Caraga, 72 years old. Trumped-up complaints related to NPA actions were filed against them last year, two were filed in Surigao del Sur which were later dismissed. The four arrested activists have constantly been red-tagged.
“Without a doubt, these trumped-up charges were preceded by incessant red-tagging and vilification by state forces. We know this pattern and template of injustice all too well,” the KMP leader said.
Ramos noted that such killings and trumped-up cases are intended to neutralize or stop farmers from advancing their struggle and advocacies for genuine land reform, defense of human rights, and demand for aid and social services.
KMP reiterated its demand for the junking of the Anti-Terrorism Act and vowed to be at the Supreme Court every Tuesday while oral arguments on the ATA are ongoing. ###