In another interview, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Mariano who also joined the fact-finding team, said there is an Army detachment one kilometer away from the place of the incident and the perpetrators sped away toward that direction. “The killers were not at all afraid to be apprehended,” he said.
Historical and Political Context
In 1956, President Ramon Magsaysay issued Presidential Proclamation Order No. 237 declaring the 73,000 hectares of land in Nueva Ecija as a military reservation. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uses 15,000 hectares of the 73,000 hectares as a camp and training ground.
By 1991, the Corazon Aquino administration allotted 3,100 hectares of FMMR to peasants displaced by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption through a Transfer of Deed between the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Agrarian Reform. By virtue of this Deed of Transfer, over a thousand peasants and other residents were awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Awards or CLOAs.
But on 24 June 2008, the newly-appointed commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division, Brigadier Gen. Ralph Villanueva, wrote to Mr. Orlando Tumacay, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (Paro) of Nueva Ecija requesting the latter to revoke the awarded CLOAs and to defer the issuance of new ones pending the litigation of a case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against the DAR before the Court of Appeals.
Site where Tatay Pascual Guevarra was brutally murdered while preparing to cook for dinner.(Photo courtesy of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas / bulatlat.com)
The residents in the 3,100 hectares organized themselves and formed Almana to oppose the 7th IDPA’s plan of evicting them from their community. Almana sought the help of the AMGL and conducted a fact-finding mission on 5-6 October 2008. Since then, Almana has actively lobbied and held dialogues with concerned agencies regarding the farmers’ plight. Guevarra was always present in these dialogues with the military and Department of National Defense (DND).
Rep. Mariano said Aquino should act immediately on the case of Guevarra, underscoring that the 1991 deed of transfer was anchored on the executive orders issued by his mother Cory.
Last week, Rep. Mariano filed House Resolution 64 directing the House of Representatives’ committees on human rights and agrarian reform to jointly probe the killing of Guevarra.
“It is imperative that the joint committees on human rights and agrarian reform immediately conduct the inquiry upon its formation. The lives of farmers in Fort Magsaysay are now under threat,” Rep. Mariano said.
According to Tanggol Magsasaka, 561 farmers have been killed since 2001 and 119 of whom are KMP leaders.
“There seems to be no difference [between Arroyo and Aquino],” Amihan’s Mariano said. She said that the recent spate of killings reminded her of the peak in extrajudicial killings in 2006. “That time, within 24 hours, five activists in Central Luzon were gunned down.”
Five activists have already been killed in the first ten days of the Aquino administration. (Bulatlat.com)