KMP urges Malacanang, PARC to resolve killing of farmers asserting land reform
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today condemned the spate of killings of farmers. Over the weekend, four farmers were killed in Capiz and Quezon provinces, bringing to fourteen the number of killed farmers and Lumad this month alone.
“Farmers and Lumad who assert genuine land reform are either killed, harassed and vilified,” said KMP SecGen Antonio Flores. Since January, eighteen farmers were killed or equivalent to one killing every three days. “We have Oplan Kapayapaan to blame for this intensified killing of farmers, peasant activists and Lumad.”
“We cannot just go on counting dead bodies. This merciless killing of farmers has to stop,” said Flores as he strongly urged Malacanang and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to look into the killings that are related to the victims’ defense of the land and advocacy for genuine land reform and killings that resulted from the AFP’s all-out war declaration and intense military operations.
On February 24, two farmers from Maayon in Capiz, Lorendo and Ian Borres of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Hibaca were allegedly killed by soldiers of the 61st IBPA. According to the relatives of the victims, Pacite and Borres were resting in a makeshift house after a day’s work at their corn field together with five other farmers when a seven-member team of the said military unit fired at them. The farmers hurriedly scurried for safety after hearing the gunshots. The cousins were later found dead in the corn field.
Army commander Lt. Col. Leonardo Pena claimed that the 61st IBPA encountered a group of NPA fighters and that the victims were NPA guerrillas. But the victims’ relatives dismissed the allegations saying the two are unarmed civilians. After the incident, more soldiers were reportedly deployed in the villages of Old Guia and Hibaca in Maayon town. KMP chapter PAMANGGAS-Panay are currently conducting a Fact-Finding Mission on the killing.
In a separate incident the following day on February 25, Gilbert Bancat, 32, a coconut farmer and peasant leader of the Pinag-isang Lakas ng mga Magsasaka (PIGLAS-Quezon) and a member of Anakpawis Partylist was shot and killed by an unidentified armed man in a cockpit arena in Sitio Long Beach, Brgy. San Lorenzo, San Andres in Quezon province. He was shot at close range and bore two gunshot wounds. Another farmer, Angel Carabot, who was nearby during the shooting, was also hit. Both were taken to a local hospital where Bancat was declared on arrival while Carabot died the following day.
Bancat, was among those who led the protest camp-out of more than a hundred farmers in Barangay Camflora, San Andres Quezon early this month to assert the lowering of land rent in the hacienda and landholding of Vicente Uy. KMP’s regional chapter KASAMA-Timog Katagalugan and KARAPATAN-Quezon will conduct a fact-finding mission tomorrow.
Based on the documentation of Tanggol Magsasaka, this month alone, killings occurred in Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Capiz, Quezon Compostela Valley and North Cotabato. Since January, sixteen farmers were killed in incidents of targeted killings, strafings and military operations —
1. Venie Diamante – (South Cotabato) January 5
2. Veronico Delamente (Surigao del Norte) – January 20
3. Alexander Ceballos (Negros Occidental) – January 20
4. Wenceslao Pacquiao (Negros Occidental) – January 25
5. Ruben Inudjoan (Davao Oriental) – February 1
6. Boy Sumambot (Davao Oriental) – February 1
7. Renato Anglao (Bukidnon) – February 3
8. Emilito Rotimas (Davao del Norte) – February 6
9. Matanem Lorendo Pocuan (Bukidnon)- February 4
10. Orlando Eslana (Capiz) – February 11
11. Edwin Catog (Compostela Valley) – February 16
12. Ariel Gelbero (Paquibato, Davao City) – February 16
13. Roel Satingasin (Paquibato, Davao City) – February 16
14. Willerme Agorde (North Cotabato) – February 19
15. Lorendo Borres (Capiz) – February 24
16. Toto Borres (Capiz) – February 24
17. Gilbert Bancat (Quezon) – February 25
18. Angel Carabot (Quezon) – February 26
The KMP leader also noted that 15 civilians were killed since the government declared an all-out war, majority were farmers and indigenous peoples. ###