“The presence of the military’s ‘peace and development teams’ in the community bolstered the culture of impunity and even emboldened the perpetrators who killed the farmer-couple.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO and ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Motorcycle-riding gunmen shot dead a peasant activist couple yesterday, Sept. 19, in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
Spouses Roger Vargas, 65, and Lucila Vargas, 60, were riding a tricycle on their way to Grotto market in Tungkong Mangga village to sell their vegetable produce when two gunmen on a motorcycle tailed them, and shot them as they were traversing Igay Road, Purok 4 in Paradise 3 village.
Roger was shot in the head, while Lucila sustained three gunshot wounds. The tricycle driver was unscathed but was traumatized, said a statement by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
Both Roger and Lucila are leaders of the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka sa San Isidro (NAGKAISA) and active members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulakan – San Jose Del Monte.
KMP Secretary General Antonio Flores condemned the killing, and called called on authorities for an immediate probe on the incident to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Their brutal killing is obviously linked to their just and legitimate struggle to own the land they till,” Flores said.
KMP cited reports that in the morning of Sept. 18, the couple had a confrontation with the security guards who introduced themselves as employed by Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson who claims ownership of a contested 11-hectare agricultural land in San Isidro village, San Jose Del Monte.
Before noon on that same day, residents also noticed the suspects wearing motorcycle helmets waiting near the location where the security guards were stationed.
Flores said that ironically, the killing happened while soldiers of the “peace and development teams” of the 48th Infantry Battalion were operating in Paradise 3 village.
“The presence of the military’s ‘peace and development teams’ in the community bolstered the culture of impunity and even emboldened the perpetrators who killed the farmer-couple,” Flores said.