Farmers call on Duterte to lift Martial Law, stop the killings

August 23, 2017

By Kilusang MAgbubukid ng Pilipinas

Three months after the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, we saw no end to the strife in Marawi. Only death and destruction prevailed. Human rights violations and extrajudicial killings intensified especially after President Duterte authorized the military and police to sow terror among the population.

“State-sponsored terror and violence is the new norm. The intensifying war against the people launched by the government from all fronts will be confronted by the peoples’ unity and growing struggle,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.

In the provinces, all-out war continues. Farmers and rural poor people who organize themselves to pursue genuine land reform are being threatened or killed. Activists are charged with trumped-up charges. Civilians communities bear the brunt of intense militarization carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. To date, more than 70 farmers were killed under the Duterte administration, majority are from Mindanao. More than half a million people, mostly farmers and indigenous people were displaced by military operations in Marawi and across Mindanao.

In urban poor communities, ordinary Filipinos, mostly coming from poor sectors – unemployed, laborers, youth, students and even minors are being killed mercilessly in the war against drugs launched by the Philippine National Police. More than 13,000 were reportedly killed in the nightly Oplan Tokhang operations. The PNP’s brutal killing of 17-year old Kian delos Santos earned broad public outrage.

“Whether politically-motivated or drug-related, the manner of how people are killed — in broad daylight, at night, inside their homes and in front of their families, are cut from the same pattern of mercenary killings orchestrated and mastered by the AFP, PNP, paramilitary and gun-for-hire groups. It is enraging that Duterte condone these actions,” Flores said.

Farmers’ camp-out at Mendiola

Poor farmers and fisherfolks led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas from Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte will mount the “Lakbayan at Kampuhan Laban sa Kahirapan at Karahasan” to highlight the strong demand for the lifting of Martial Law, resolution of the root causes of poverty, landlessness and a stop to the nationwide killings.

In Caraga, farmers are no strangers to state-sponsored violence. Last July 10, Meliton Catampungan of Nagkahiusang mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Norte (NAMASUN) was killed in Alegria, Surigao del Norte while on July 16, Silvestre Maratas, vice chairperson of Kapunongansa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao Sur (KAMASS-KMP)-San Miguel was gunned down by suspected military elements. Both are actively campaigning for land reform.

“Killings and other human rights abuses intensified under Martial Law. Throughout Caraga, the military encampment in civilian communities persist. AFP soldiers carry out house-to-house campaign identifying leaders and members of farmers organizations. Alternative schools for indigenous youth and children face serious threats and attacks,” said Virgilio Lincuna, secretary of KMP-Caraga.

“We are being accused and tagged as supporters of the NPA. Those who are active in land struggles were charged with trumped-up charges and jailed. Peasant leaders are tagged as terrorists, with their names and pictures posted in checkpoints across Caraga,” the KMP leader said.

“Martial Law has worsened the situation of farmers,” Lincuna said. Landless farmers are burdened with high land rent, high irrigation fees, lacking support services from the government and continued political killings and human rights violations.”

“Naglakbayan at nandito sa Maynila ang mga magsasaka ng Region 13 CARAGA para igiit sa gobyernong Duterte na asikasuhin at solusyunan ang kahirapan ng mamamayan sa halip na Martial Law at walang pakundangang mga pagpatay dulot ng Oplan Tokhang at Oplan Kapayapaan,”Lincuna added.

The Caraga protest camp-out at Mendiola will be the first in a series of protest camp-outs in the National Capital Region in the coming weeks.