February 28, 2010
Nasugbu, BATANGAS – Three weeks after the illegal arrest of the 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal, several farmers and leaders of the militant peasant-group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) have reported cases of harassment by alleged military intelligence service. This new wave of political persecution in the Batangas province has opened speculations that the military is targeting medical service areas of the so-called Morong 43.
The harassment began at February 21 when two men, escorted by local village councillor Aquilino Limeta, visited Brgy. Calayo in Nasugbu, Batangas. A civilian-clad male identified himself as Oscar Derain and another unidentified male, both believed to be working for the intelligence service of Philippine Air Force (PAF), started questioning the wife of Guillermo Bautista, chairperson of KASAMA-TK.
The three men persistently asked the peasant leader’s location. When his wife refused to divulge Bautista’s whereabouts, Derain bluntly declared that he is the “Supremo” of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Batangas. The intelligence officer claimed that the information directly came from the confession of the health workers who belonged to the so-called Morong 43.
Derain visited the house of village councillor Roniel Asahan the next day and declared the same statement to Asahan’s mother. On a separate incident, Mandy Limeta, a resident of the village was asked “what was he up to” and was accused of being a “comrade of the 43” by Derain.
The community also reported that the same intelligence agents were looking for a certain Isabelo Alicaya who is residing at Brgy. San Diego in Lian, Batangas. Alicaya is the chairperson of the progressive fisher folk group Pamalakaya-TK.
Bautista countered the military’s red-tagging saying these are baseless and but part of their systematic program to silence the critics of the Arroyo government.
He admitted that he and the local residents of Nasugbu personally knew most of the 43 individuals who are illegally detained by the military for claims of being “communists and NPA leaders”.
“Annually since 1998, the health workers have conducted series of medical and dental missions for the remote farmer communities in Batangas. The military should release the Morong 43 as they are not destabilizers of the government but rather people who have chosen to give unconditional service to the poor who have no medical access,” Bautista stressed.
Axel Pinpin, secretary general of KASAMA-TK slammed the PAF for the recent human rights violations in the Southern Tagalog region. Pinpin, who is an ex-political detainee, said that the illegal crackdown of activists near the Morong 43’s medical areas only shows the military’s desperate attempt to cease the farmers’ struggle for landownership.
Pinpin cited the peasants in Hacienda Looc who are currently facing a massive land-grabbing issue by Mall magnate Henry Sy. The 8,650 hectares of agricultural land will be converted for use by the Fil-Estate and the SM Development Corporation.
Peasants also tell-tale of PAF soldiers camped at their nearby community who are campaigning against candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza. Ocampo and Maza are representatives of progressive party-lists Bayan Muna and Gabriela Women’s Party who are both senatorial-bets in the Mayo 2010 elections.
Bautista’s wife said that the peasants will surely vote for Ocampo and Maza in what the military is doing.
Axel Pinpin, KASAMA-TK Secretary-General