Farmers accuse Singson, military of extra-judicial killing
On the eve of the 43rd year of martial law, the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemned in the strongest terms the extra-judicial killing yesterday of two peasant leaders in the City of San Jose Del Monte, province of Bulacan rooted from an agrarian dispute between the farmers and Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson allegedly.
Initial reports said that Roger B. Vargas, 65, and Lucila L. Vargas, 60, a couple and both leaders of the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka sa San Isido (NAGKAISA) and active members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulakan – San Jose Del Monte were riding a tricycle on their way to Grotto market in Barangay Tungkong Mangga to sell their vegetable produce when the two suspected gunmen riding a motorcycle in tandem were tailing them.
Four shots were fired by the gunmen hitting Roger in the head while Lucila suffered three shots in the body between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. of September 19 while traversing Igay Road, Purok 4 in Barangay Paradise 3. The tricycle driver, now suffering from trauma, survived the incident.
Reports also said that in the morning of September 18, the couple had a confrontation with the security guards who introduced themselves as employed by Ronald Singson who is allegedly claiming ownership of a contested 11-hectare agricultural land in Barangay San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte. The farmers claim that the security guards allegedly employed by Singson were insisting to include the land being tilled and occupied by the Vargas couple.
Before noon yesterday, residents already noticed the suspects wearing motorcycle helmets waiting near the location where the security guards are stationed.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the extra-judicial killing of Ka Roger and Ka Cila. Their brutal killing is obviously linked to their just and legitimate struggle to own the land they till,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.
“Their death is also a result of the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan that approves and tolerates the use of private armed groups as force multiplier,” Flores said adding: “The incident also happened at a time when so-called ‘peace and development teams’ of the 48th Infantry Battalion are now actively operating in Barangay Paradise 3.”
“The presence of the military’s ‘peace and development teams’ in the community bolstered the culture of impunity and even emboldened the perpetrators who killed the farmer-couple,” Flores said.
KMP demanded an immediate probe of the incident and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
A quick reaction team and fact-finding mission led by KMP, Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulacan-SJDM, Karapatan, and Anakpawis party-list will be held today in Barangay San Isidro and Barangay Paradise 3, in San Jose Del Monte. ###
Antonio Flores, KMP Secretary General, 0921-2726682; Mao Hermitanio, 0922-7605706