Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list condemned the latest killings of four farmers, on February 24 in Maayon town, Capiz and February 25 in San Andres, Quezon province. These made the total number of farmer victims to at least seven this month. Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao’s office is already drafting respective house resolutions to call for a probe on the incidents.
“We condemn this barbarity against farmers and demand justice to the victims. These are blatant proof that under the Duterte government, there is no deterrent against these crimes, that are commonly related to agrarian dispute and continued militarization in the countryside,” Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said in a statement.
On February 24 at around 3pm, farmer Rolendo Borres and his nephew were killed by elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA), while working on their makeshit huts with other five locals at their farm at Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon town in Capiz.
They were reported by the military as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were killed in an encounter. But family members of the victims refuted the accusation as Lucivita Borres, mother of Rolendo asserted that his son was at the site to attend to their carabao and to send text messages to his wife who is working as a house help in Manila, as it was the only spot with a strong signal for cellphones.
She added that prior the killing, Rolendo stumbled upon four members of the 61st IBPA who were fully armed but not in their proper uniform, hence, he thought they were members of a private armed group. The soldiers tried to snatch away his cellphone, that made him running away to escape, while being fired upon.
Afterwards, the victims asked the company of five barangay residents to get their carabao at their farm. During then, a loud barrage of fire was heard by local residents that lasted for about 20 minutes, as cried by Marjorie Borres while talking to the local media. She is the wife of the other victim Ian Borres.
Local residents refuted the pronouncement of the military tagging the victims as members of the NPA and family members were deprived of their right to see the remains of the victims, which were only made available to them after 15 hours at a local mortuary.
The mother of the victim asserted that if only the members of the army were in their proper uniforms, the killing could have been avoided. She added that the claimed evidences were planted.
Hacienda Uy – related
On February 25 at Brgy. San Lorenzo, San Andres town, Quezon, the farmer victim Gilbert Bancat, was killed by a suspect wearing black jacket and cap, with height around 5’ 5”, who shot him using a .45 caliber handgun. He was rushed to a local hospital but died around 5pm. Another victim, Angel Carabot, a farmer bystander was wounded by the attack was brought to a hospital in Lucena City, but succumbed to his gunshot wounds the following day, February 26.
Bancat was a leader of Pinagkaisang Lakas ng mga Magbubukid sa Quezon (Piglas Quezon) and member of Anakpawis Partylist, who was leading an agrarian dispute in the 385-hectare Hacienda Uy, located at Brgy. Camflora of the said town.
The farmers were demanding its coverage for land distribution as early as 1995, but its owner Dr. Vicente Uy strongly opposed it. In the recent years, the landowner has barred the farmers from working on their farms, as well as cultivating other crops and raising livestock. As protest, farmers held mass actions last month.
Last month, Casilao filed House Resolution No. 681 calling the Committees on Agrarian Reform and Human Rights to probe on the complaints of the farmers.
“It is clear that the atrocities in Capiz by the military and in Quezon were agrarian-related and connected to militarization. We have demanding a stop to the extra-judicial killings of farmers who are only pushing for their rights to land and livelihood,” Casilao said.
Last February 20, Casilao filed three House Resolutions No. 803, 804 and 805, that call for a probe on the extra-judicial killings of an agrarian-reform beneficiary in Capiz, a Lumad farmer in Compostela Valley, a farmer in North Cotabato, respectively.
The lawmaker asserted that as long as genuine land reform in the country is not attained, Filipino farmers would never tire of asserting their rights, and as retaliation, fall victims and targets to human rights abuses perpetrated by government forces and the land-owning class. ###