Anakpawis solon raises alarm against intensified militarization of peasant communities

Peasant evacuees in San Juan De Buan, Samar. Photo by Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas

Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao raised the alarm against intensified militarization of peasant communities in Samar, Negros, Surigao del Sur, Quezon and Camarines Norte.

“Peasants from various areas in the country are calling out against militarization of their communities and we join their demand of military pull-out and stop to human rights abuses,” Casilao who joined the National Fact-finding Mission in Negros Oriental on the mass killing of 14 peasants last March 30.

Based on information collated by Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, from urgent alerts reported by various people’s organizations, the following:

– on March 22, the mass evacuation of more than 1,400 peasants from three barangays of San Juan De Buan town in Samar due to incessant military operations since March 8 by elements of the 87th Infantry Battalion under the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army;

– on March 31, the mass evacuation of 28 lumad families or more than 160 individuals in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur, due to artillery fire and helicopter bombardment of their communities by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines;

– on April 1, the mass evacuation of more than 1,700 peasants from Moise Padilla town, Negros Occidental to other barangays and town center due to military operations of the 62nd IBPA;

– on April 3, the strafing of a house of peasant leader in Sta. Elena town, Camarines Norte, the victim is a leader of Gateway to Bicolandia Farmers’ Association and a coordinator of Neri Colmenares for Senator Movement, due to massive military operations extending Guinayangan, Lopez, Macalelon, San Francisco, Sariaya and other towns in the Quezon province;

– on April 5, the raid by more than a hundred elements of the 79th IBPA of a house of a Pamalakaya fisherfolk leader and another in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, the victims were arrested due to trumped up charges.

“These atrocities are aside from the Negros mass killing that brutally killed 14 peasants in March 30,” the lawmaker said.

He associated the intensified attacks against peasant communities as brought about by the Memorandum Order No. 32 of President Duterte, targetting activists in Samar, Negros island and Bicol region, and the martial law in Mindanao.

“This large-scale abuses against Filipino peasants certainly descriptive of state terrorism, or attacks perpetrated by the government against activists, on the case of peasants, whonare demanding genuine agrarian reform, support to production and relief to survive the present onslaught on their crops of the extreme drought,” he said.

Casilao said that peasants organize themselves to seek redress from the government against land grabbing, displacement and other abuses by big landlords. The victims of the Negros mass killing were members of the Kaugmaon, the Negros Oriental chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Also, among arrested were the Anakpawis Canlaon City Chapter organization Azucena Garubat and a leader of Gabriela.

“We urge various sectors in Metro Manila to extend support to the victims, as it is clear that democracy, human rights, justice or rule of law and due process are already seriously trampled upon by the state,” the lawmaker urged.

He vowed to press the House Committee on Human Rights to probe these atrocities.

“We urge the people to join the ‘Lupa para sa mga Magsasaka, #BigasHindiBala’ protest at Mendiola on April 10, to demand the Duterte government the call #StopKillingFarmers,” he urged. ###

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