CALABARZON farmers troop to Camp Aguinaldo vs. killings and red-tagging 

More than a hundred farmers from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon led by Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) trooped to Camp Aguinaldo today October 19 to protest extra-judicial killings and red-tagging. “Armed elements’ pestering of peasant communities in Southern Tagalog has continued under Marcos Jr,” KASAMA TK spokesperson Orly Marcellana asserts.

Human rights group Karapatan has documented at least ten victims of extrajudicial killings in the first 100 days of the current administration. This includes the killings of copra farmer Crisanto Lagardilla in Negros, and peasants Jovel Agudez in Bulacan and Maximo Digmo in Batangas. 

Marcellana says that the 59th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in particular “has killed civilians and terrorized peasant communities in Batangas with impunity.” He cited the killing of 50-year-old and mentally-ill Digno last July 26 in Cahil, Calaca. The 59th IB reported that Digno was a rebel killed in an armed encounter. This was however vehemently disputed by his relatives, recounting that on that day, Digno was on his way to his farm before later being found dead.

In an earlier and similar incident, nine-year-old Kyllene Casao was killed in Guinhawa, Taysan, also in Batangas. The 59th IB also attributed the death to an armed encounter. This was however refuted again by the testimonies of residents, which indicated that while there was an exchange of gun fires in Sitio Amatong, lasting around five minutes – there was none in Sitio Central, where Casao was shot dead.

“The killing of mentally ill Digno and minor Casao are just among the worst atrocities by armed state elements in Southern Tagalog. Soldiers continue to spread fear and terror, encamping on civilian facilities, red-tagging progressive organizations, and threatening farmer-leaders,” Marcellana continued. For these incidents, the farmers “served an arrest warrant” against the 59th IB in the protest today.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano added that these incidents of rural violence further highlight the “sheer emptiness” of president and agriculture secretary Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s pronouncements of “honoring farmers as modern-day heroes.” “Farmers are not stupid or blind, instead of sidelining us through repression, Marcos Jr and his government should listen to our appeals and proposals,” the former agrarian reform secretary said.

KASAMA TK is the regional chapter of KMP for Southern Tagalog. #

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