“We only want to farm in peace. When the military arrests the people they should be protecting, who do they really serve?”
By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAPAN CITY – A farmer from barangay Malabahay, Macalelon, Quezon was arrested by alleged soldiers last night, Oct. 28, according to human rights group Tanggol Quezon.
Ronilo Pensader was arrested around 10 p.m, reports reaching Bulatlat indicated. Details are still unclear as of press time.
Pensader is one of the many farmers from Macalelon who were forced to evacuate last July due to increasing militarization in the area as a result of Oplan Kapanatagan. He went back to his home, fearing for the safety of his wife and their ten children.
According to the evacuees, they were being harassed by elements of the 85th Infantry Battalion. Some were interrogated and forced to confess to being “NPA supporters”.
They were also harassed by elements of the 2nd Infantry Division when they sought support from Karapatan in their Lucena office.
On July 23, farmers filed complaint with the Commission of Human Rights in Quezon City. The investigation, however, is yet to take place.
Militarization intensified early March this year when they opposed a dam project by the National Irrigation Authority which threatens to submerge over a hundred hectares of farmland and displace an entire barangay.
In a phone interview with Bulatlat, Eliseo Bartalo, one of the farmers who had to evacuate, condemned the arrest, saying, “We only want to farm in peace. When the military arrests the people they should be protecting, who do they really serve?”