Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao joined hundreds of farmers from Northern and Southern Mindanao regions under the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) with their “Black Friday protest” demanding the “Stop Killing Farmers” slogan in front of the central office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City. In relation, Casilao recently joined the formation of the anti-tyranny group Coalition for Land, Against Martial Law and Oppression (Clamor) at the office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in Manila.
“Other sectors are joining the peasant movement in their demand a stop to extra-judicial killings in the countryside, and we challenge President Duterte to heed this legitimate and moral call,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
According to Karapatan human rights group, there are already 91 farmer-victims of extra-judicial killings under President Duterte’s watch and more than half of them were from Mindanao, where martial law and all-out war policies are being executed by the administration.
The victims were mostly members and leaders of local peasant organizations who are fighting for their land rights, against land grabbing and displacement, and projects such as mining, plantation expansion and others.
“We would also like to highlight that they are not just killing peasant activists, but also targeting peasant couples such as on the cases of the Pesadillas last March in Compostela and Arrabis last September in Davao City, hence, President Duterte’s all-out war policy is making a generation of orphan peasant children,” Casilao said.
Extra-judicial killing victims Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla were members of Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA) in Compostela town, affiliated with KMP, and they were opposing the land grabbing and actions to displace farmers by Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation (Agpet), a mining firm connected to Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. While couple Jezreel and Dalia Arrabis, both members of Farmers’ Association of Davao City (FADC) were killed in Calinan District. Farmers groups are tagging the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the atrocities.
“The all-out war policy of President Duterte, akin to his sham war on drugs, is causing the systematic killings of farmers across the country, we hold him primarily accountable for this nationwide warlordism and tyrannical rule,” Casilao said.
The lawmaker also urged the public to support the nationwide peasant caravan “Lakbay Magsasaka” where tens of thousands of farmers and activists are expected to join the rally on October 25 at Mendiola bridge in Manila, demanding a stop to killings and genuine agrarian reform in the country. ###