MANILA – A peasant leader was shot dead in Isabela province today, the fifth peasant victim killed in as many days.
In a statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemned the killing of Ariel Diaz, chairperson of the Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela (DAGAMI), who was shot dead by three armed men at 8 a.m. today, Sept. 7, in his farm in Villa Pereda, Delfin Albano town. Dagami is KMP’s provincial chapter in Isabela.
“We call on the Duterte government to put a stop to these politically-motivated killings. It is highly-condemnable that farmers who defend their right to the lands are being killed,” said Antonio Flores, KMP secretary general, in a statement.
“Even as a wake is still being held for the farmers killed in Fort Magsaysay on Saturday, another one was shot and killed in Isabela,” Flores added, noting the “rising trend of extrajudicial killings against farmers under the Duterte administration.”
On Sept. 3, four farmer-beneficiaries of the government agrarian reform were shot dead in a disputed land in San Isidro village, Laur town, Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) also denounced the killing of Diaz, who was UMA’s provincial coordinator and leader of the Inter-municipal Peasant Alliance Against Foreign Landgrabbing in Isabela.
“We condemn the killing of Diaz as a brutal but cowardly act done to silence our farmers. The killings come at a time when peace talks and the necessary socio-economic reforms such as land reform and labor issues are being discussed by the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF),” said Danilo Ramos, UMA secretary general.
In both incidents, the victims were active in resisting landgrabbing in their areas.
“Both the killings in Isabela and Nueva Ecija are linked to agrarian disputes with the perpetrators believed to be either hired goons or state security forces that serve as private armies of land-grabbers,” says Flores.
In 2011, another peasant activist, DAGAMI member Bonifacio Labasan of San Mateo, Isabela was gunned down on March 23, 2011 at the height of the farmers’ campaign against foreign landgrabbing.
KMP noted the widespread landgrabbing of rice and corn lands in Isabela province, for conversion into sugarcane production for a government joint venture with local and foreign bio-ethanol companies. Peasant groups opposed the project, as thousands of beneficiaries were denied their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) distributed years earlier under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).