Naga City, Camarines Sur – More than 2,000 farmers under the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bikol (KMB) joining the nationwide protest caravan Lakbay Magsasaka from various provinces in Bicol are heading towards Southern Tagalog region, to join farmers under the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), demanding the stop to killing of farmers and free distribution of land in the country. Both farmer groups are regional chapters of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and affiliated with Anakpawis Party-list.
Party-list representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao and Pamalakaya-Pilipinas National Chairperson and former Anakpawis representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap are joining the protest caravan and farmers held their symbolic and solidarity breakfast early this morning in the said city.
“Farmers are slamming President Duterte as he has surpassed the brutality of past Aquino and Arroyo regimes on the killing of farmer activists, and they are shouting that he is worse than ‘dilaw’,” Casilao said in a statement.
The Karapatan human rights group recently publicized their summary documentation of extra-judicial killings on farmers and under the Duterte administration, it has reached to 91 farmer-victims. The group also compared it with past regimes, with the Macapagal-Arroyo’s for her 9 year-rule (January 20, 2011 – June 30, 2010) at 603 and Aquino’s 270 for his 6-year term (June 30, 2010 – June 30, 2016).
“Though we are not comfortable of treating the martyrs of the peasant movement as statistics, we are bound to expose this brutality, Duterte’s rule caused the average killings of farmer per month at 6, surpassing Arroyo’s 5 and Aquino’s 4,” Casilao explained.
Duterte also exceeded both predecessors the most farmers killed per year, with 73 victims, over Arroyo’s 64 and Aquino’s 45. In Bicol, 24 farmer fell to extra-judicial killings and 17 of them were from Sorsogon province alone. KMB blamed this atrocity to Duterte’s all-out war policy or his counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan that targets legal-democratic activists in the countryside.
The Bicol contingent kicking off from Naga City will merge with the Southern Tagalog farmers and protest in front of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) headquarters in Lucena City, Quezon tomorrow.
The farmers under KASAMA-TK are condemning the aerial bombings of farmer communities in Batangas last month that led to a massive evacuation and closure of schools in cluster of barangays.
While in Quezon, farmers in the “hacienda belt” are denouncing the continued violent attacks by rich landlords. A peasant leader from Hacienda Uy, Gilbert Bancat was killed last February in San Andres town, Quezon. He is a leader of the local farmers association opposing their displacement by Dr. Vicente Uy. The group is also protesting the abuses in Hacienda Matias, displacing farmers who were cultivating the land for many decades.
“President Duterte promised that change will come, but he is reigning with terror, killing the farmers who are asserting for their rights to land, he is a disgrace, a traitor to Filipino farmers, who is supposedly looking out of our welfare, he has sided with rich hacienderos and oligarchs, and used tyrannical measures to protect their interests,” Norberto Autor, KMB Chairperson lamented. ###