Davao City — The October Peasant Month culminates today (Oct. 21) with a symbolic protest -cum- send off activity at the Freedom Park joined by more than 200 members of peace advocates, farmers groups, and members of Anakpawis that will hold a simultaneous peace and mercy mission in different farmer and lumad communities gravely affected by militarization in Southern Mindanao.
Target areas for the activity dubbed as the Interfaith Peace & Mercy Mission are communities documented with high incidence of human rights violations in 2009 such as Talaingod Davao Del Norte, Baganga & Lupon in Davao Oriental, and Pantukan & Maragusan in Compostela Valley.
Pedro Arnado, Anakpawis party list regional coordinator, said the peace mission led by members of various church groups and other peace advocates of Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) is a very timely peace initiative since the relentless military operations had already wreaked havoc in several communities and caused so much suffering among lumads, farmers and workers.
“Intervention and support services by peace and human rights advocates are significant in these times when farmer communities are held hostage by the rabid military operations of the 10th Infantry Battalion that target unarmed civilians and civilian communities at large,” Arnado said.
Anakpawis has earlier condemned the 10th ID’s practice of “hamleting” villages, of encamping and setting up of military outposts within populated villages, and the forcible recruitment of civilians to serve as armed paramilitary recruits under the Barangay Defense System (BDS).
Arnado also said that at the wake of the military’s counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya 2, more than 500 farmers in the country who were leaders or members of legitimate peoples organizations have been slain for their critical stance and opposition to anti-farmer policies of the Arroyo administration.
From 2001 to June 2009 in the Davao region alone, farmer leaders and members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas who were slain under the Oplan Bantay Laya reached thirty – four (34).
These cases, Arnado said, remains unsolved to this day.
Reiterating the findings of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston that “the military is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated,” Arnado said their group, whether in Congress or in the streets, will not yield to the threats by the military and the government in their struggle for justice. #