“Be Independent, Fight for Justice and Human Rights,” Peasants Urge De Lima

June 25, 2010

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) urged Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila De Lima to be indepent and continue to fight for justice and human rights when she becomes secretary of the Dept. of Justice of the incoming Aquino government.

“We welcome this development of her appointment and we urge her to stay independent and continue to work for the protection and promotion of human rights. We, as being peasants who are common victims of rights abuses, have many cases that she openly received and look unto,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-convenor.

“CHR made investigations about Hacienda Luisita massacre, the violent dispersal of our camp-out in Congress on May last year, the effects of militarization on farmers in Southern Mindanao region, Southern Tagalog 72, Tagaytay 5 and more,” Flores added.

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The groups said that De Lima did plenty in highlighting human rights abuses in the national scene given that CHR has no police and judicial powers but recommendatory. Though CHR’s intervention on the agrarian aspect is not part of its mandate but to focus on the actual rights abuses that took place, the groups are appreciative that a commission is open to hear the pleas of oppressed farmers. Peasants and human rights advocates are now looking forward into De Lima putting more significant and effective attention to cases of peasant rights abuses.

“Though quite impossible, we sincerely hope that she maintains her independence from incoming president Aquino, particularly on the seeking of justice for the victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre that killed 7 striking agri-workers on November 16, 2004,” Flores said.

Tanggol Magsasaka said that out of 1,190 victims of extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo regime, 561 were peasants, that included 119 KMP leaders. Aside from Gumanoy were Renato Pacaide of KMP – Far Southern Mindanao Region, Atrhur Orpilla and Dionisio Battad of DANGGAYAN – CV (KMP Cagayan Valley), Marcelino Beltran of AMT (KMP Tarlac), Fermin Lorico of KAUGMAON (KMP Negros Oriental), Celso Pojas of FADC (KMP Davao City) and many more.

“We are working with other human rights groups to file cases against outgoing president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly on rights abuses. We hope that De Lima stand her ground as big cases involving powerful and influential entities are to flood her office,” said Flores.

“As incoming secretary of justice department, we really hope that she stays on the right and straight path of pursuing justice, not the crooked one,” Flores added.

Reference: Roy Morilla, KMP Public Information Officer

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