By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA – Peasants camped out at the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City held a “Black Friday protest,” Oct. 20 to denounce the unabated killings of activists in the countryside.
Under the Duterte administration, more than 90 farmers and activists have fallen victim to the war on drugs and counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, as of this October.
“We cannot allow this reign of impunity to continue. We demand justice and an end to the killing spree. More than 90 farmers were killed under the Duterte regime,” Antonio Flores, Secretary General of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in a statement.
In Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, eight farmers and activists were killed from July to September 2017. The killings were all carried out by masked gunmen riding-in-tandem on motorcycle.
Groups suspect that the successive killings were the state forces’ retaliation to the alleged ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) on the local Philippine National Police (PNP).
In Dumaguete, Luardo Yac of Kaugmaon-KMP, was shot while he was on his way home from the hospital. Alberto “Leboy” Tecson, vice chairperson of Pamalakaya-Guihulngan, and Oscar Asildo, Jr., Bayan Muna Organizer, were also shot by suspected state agents.
Human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan) reported that farmer Jason Montalla, a member of the Samahan Gudi nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-GB), was shot by two armed men on September 5. The 7th Infantry Battalion had earlier tagged him tagged as “an NPA supporter.”
In Southern Mindanao, 50 activists have been killed as of September 2017, majority of whom were farmers. Compostella Valley has earned the designation of being the “valley of death,” with the rising number of farmers killed in the province.
On October 19, Bulatlat received an urgent report from Karapatan-Cagayan Valley that two farmers were “machine-gunned” by members of the 86th Infantry Batallion in Isabela. After the incident, the military reported the incident to be an encounter between them and the NPA. It was also reported that the military has set up temporary camp in a remote farming community in the villages of Benito Soliven and San Mariano.
Peasants, members of progressive organizations, and their families are also victims of harassments, threats and intimidation of military who camp near their communities. Karapatan also recorded that as of September 5, at least 133 families evacuated in Kasibu Nueva Vizcaya after being red-tagged and harassed by the 84th Infantry Battalion.
“Duterte has no regard and respect for human rights. He allowed state forces to turn the country into a killing field. As the government vows to intensify its triple war against the people – Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Kapayapaan, Martial Law in Mindanao and the all-out war in Marawi, we see no end to the state-sponsored killings and atrocities,” said Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP, said in a statement.