Posts

Farmers demand food production aid under 2022 nat’l budget

Hit hard by government’s greater dependence on food importation during the coronavirus pandemic, farmers have demanded P15,000 production subsidy in next year’s national budget.

Reacting to Department of Agriculture (DA) statements at its ongoing budget deliberations at the House of Representatives, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also said it opposes secretary William Dar’s admission there will be no cash aid for farmers under their Php91 billion 2022 budget proposal.

Gutom po ang mga Pilipino lalo na ngayong pandemya. Kailangan palakasin ang lokal na produksyon ng pagkain. Paano magagawa ito kung walang ayuda sa mga magsasaka at hindi nagagamit ng tama ang pondo sa agrikultura ayon sa pangangailan ng mga magbubukid? KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos in a statement said. 

(There are more hungry Filipinos during this pandemic. Local food production must be strengthened. How can this be achieved without cash aid to farmers and funds are not used properly to benefit farmers?)

Ramos said that they support a higher budget for DA, their group is not keen on the department’s fiscal directions as well as greater emphasis on import liberalization and private and foreign investments on agriculture.

Ramos said such policies have only primarily benefited local and foreign business interests and have further marginalized poor farmers.

“The perfect storm in agriculture is not only due to the african swine flu (ASF), climatic events, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Decades of neo-liberal policies have only worsened the state of agriculture and Filipino farmers,” Ramos said.  

The KMP revealed that DA’s “Matibay na Seguridad sa Pagkain, Maunlad at Masaganang Buhay ng mga Magsasaka at Mangingisda” program is in fact decreasing the budget for corn production, organic agriculture as well as the production of high-value crops.

“The P207M o 1.33% increase in the National Rice Program budget is also very meager to support rice production,” it added.

KMP said DA’s market and business-driven and profit-oriented programs remains its focus while failing to address the slump in pork production due to the ASF.

“The DA is already discussing technology and modernization under Digital Agriculture 4.0, while the dominant domestic farming perennially relies on carabao and manual plow. There is a significant disconnect between DA’s policies and the realities of poor Filipino farmers,” Ramos revealed.

The KMP said Dar must realize the actual condition of farmers and get out of his “alternate reality.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

KMP: Gov’t anti-insurgency drive targets farmers, people’s organizations

The Rodrigo Duterte government targets and forces farmers to pose as surrenderers and be counted as trophies in its anti-insurgency campaign, an investigation by a farmers’ group revealed.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said a nationwide profiling campaign is ongoing against farmers, many of whom are later listed and presented as surrendered New People’s Army (NPA) members or supporters by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). 

The KMP said the attacks on the peasant sector was affirmed by its series of online fact-finding activities with campaign group Tanggol Magsasaka on farmers, leaders, and other residents in 11 provinces nationwide from July to August.

More than 70 victims gave their testimonies and affidavits on over a hundred cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by state forces, KMP said.

The groups’ first ever online fact-finding activity was aimed to “expose the Duterte regime’s dirty and brutal war targeting farmers, to silence their collective struggle for land, economic reforms, and social justice. “

The fact-finding mission was held just as President Duterte bragged in his last State of the Nation Address last July 26 that about 17,000 NPA members have already surrendered to government forces.

“More than 17,000 former communist rebels have surrendered to the government. They have returned to the fold of the law and are happily reintegrating to the community,” Duterte said.

The President added his administration’s projects such as farm-to-market roads, livelihood, education and sanitation were able to destroy 15 NPA fronts, which he did not identify.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) however laughed at the President’s claim, pointing out past military claims the NPA has no more than 4,000 fighters left.

“”Fifteen guerrilla fronts dismantled? Dream on, Duterte. Si Gen. Hermogenes Esperon ng NTF-ELCAC nagsabi, mahigit daw 4,000 noong June ang NPA mula 3,700 noong December,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.

Civilians

The KMP said many of those claimed by NTF-ELCAC’s to be surrenderers were civilians, including farmers, farm workers, peasant leaders, rural women and youth, and fisher folk.

“[T]he majority of these so-called surrenderers are civilians — ordinary farmers who were either coerced, forced, or duped into ‘surrendering’ to the government,” the KMP said.

The group said that based on initial findings of its online investigation, red-tagging, threat, harassment, and intimidation are the most common forms of abuse by state forces.

Other instances of abuses include:

* Home and farm “intimidation visits” by police, military, and intelligence agents;

* “Forced presentation” of peasant leaders, farmers, and civilians to village authorities and Philippine Army camps to have their names “cleared”; and

* Forced attendance in village meetings organized by the military to be “lectured” on counterinsurgency. 

KMP said that individuals targeted for forced surrender were intimidated to sign document denouncing local organization and the CPP-NPA-NDFP alleged as “Communist Terrorist Groups.”  

The group’s accusations mirror the December 2019 Philippine Army admission it manipulated a photo to show a group of so-called NPA surrenderers in Masbate province.

The Philippine Army photo it released to the media that it also later admitted was manipulated.

Automatic NPA supporters

The KMP revealed government forces automatically accuse local peasant organizations and associations supporters of the NPA or have links and relations to the CPP, NPA and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). 

“Farmers and rural populations in localities are often red-tagged as members of the so-called Milisyang Bayan and Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad. Legitimate peasant organizations engaged in farm campaigns, campaigns for land reform, against land-grabbing, against high land rent, and other forms of feudal exploitation are always and automatically red-tagged and vilified by state forces,” KMP said.

The group added its affiliates as well as those of other peasant organizations have been red-tagged, including Danggayan, Dagami, Kaguimungan, UMA-Isabela, AMIHAN-Ambi, PIGLAS and CLAIM in Quezon, AMB in Bulacan, KMB, BCPAI, and LAMBAT in Bicol, and local organizations of farmers in Cavite, Camarines Sur, Albay, Iloilo, and Capiz. 

“In the course of the comprehensive and sustained forced surrender campaigns, state forces, and authorities use varied forms ranging from persuasion, deception, fraud, subterfuge, suppression, coercion, and outright use of force and violence,” the KMP said.

It added the government’s counter-insurgency campaign takes full advantage to enforce more restrictions in peasant communities, making peasant communities and villages virtual military garrisons. 

The group said its fact-finding mission will continue in the coming weeks to further probe the situation in other regions and provinces. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘DOE has become a mere announcer of oil price hikes’

“Oil price hikes have direct and lasting effects on agricultural and fishing production cost, cost of farm inputs, and overall cost of living for Filipinos. Throughout the deregulation era, the Department of Energy (DOE) has become a mere announcer of oil price hikes. Deregulation under Duterte also caused much damage to the livelihood and economic status of Filipinos.”Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano, Chairman Emeritus, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

‘Hustisya para kay Ka Joseph’

Hustisya ang malakas na panawagan ng mga naulilang pamilya, kaibigan, at kasama ni Joseph Canlas, vice chaiperson ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) at lider ng Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL). Pumanaw ang 59 anyos na lider pesante noong Mayo 11, sa komplikasyon dulot ng COVID-19 na kanyang nakuha mula sa iligal na pagkakulong noong Marso 30.

Matatandaang isa si Canlas sa mga iligal na inaresto sa binansagang ‘Huli Week.’ Tinamnam ng mga gawa-gawang ebidensya ang yumaong lider at ikinulong sa Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga. Noong Mayo 8 ay isinugod si Canlas sa isang ospital sa Angeles City matapos makaramdam ng hirap sa paghinga. Positibo ang resulta ng kanyang swab test at doon na nga binawian ng buhay.

Mahigpit na kinukundena ng mga human rights group, pati na ng KMP, ang hindi patas na pagtrato kay Canlas habang ito’y nasa kulungan na nagpalala sa mga iniinda na nitong sakit tulad ng hypertension at diabetes. “We will turn our grief into [a] strong indignation and protest [to] this government that kills its people,” saad ng KMP.

Peasant leader’s death sparks outrage, calls for justice

AlterMidya

Longtime peasant leader Joseph Canlas, who had been detained over trumped-up charges, has passed away today, May 11, after he was rushed to a hospital three days ago, according to peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We condemn in strongest terms the jail authorities’ neglect and the Duterte government’s unjust incarceration of Ka Joseph which led to his untimely death this morning,” Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said. “We express our deepest condolences to his family.”

Canlas, chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, was arrested March 30 by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police in Mexico, Pampanga. He was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives — a criminal case that human rights groups called the “standard” charges fabricated against activists under the Duterte administration.

The peasant leader was rushed to an Angeles City hospital due to low oxygen level and possible stroke. The following morning, he was transferred to an intensive care unit due to acute respiratory failure and COVID-19.

On May 10, Canlas had lapsed into a coma despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator.

Human rights groups earlier decried “unjust treatment” of Canlas under custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. They said the land reform advocate was subjected to severe conditions that made him vulnerable to ailments like COVID-19. Hospital records showed his cause of death as pneumonia.

Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), where Canlas served as vice-chairperson, noted that he was in stable condition prior to detention. His health would soon deteriorate under jail custody as proven by his complaints of difficulty in breathing and stuttering speech.

“If jail authorities thoroughly checked Canlas’s health condition, they would have known that he has hypertension and diabetes which makes him more vulnerable to COVID infection,” KMP said.

“If he received proper medical attention while in detention, then the risks could have been lessened,” the group added.

A day after his arrest, Canlas was transferred and put under quarantine at the CIDG Region 3. He was not allowed to receive visitors, including family members and counsel.

According to KMP, Canlas was transferred after two weeks to the BJMP Detention Center in Angeles City after an X-ray examination. Since the BJMP’s facility was full, he was listed to be placed under quarantine.

The peasant advocate was put in BJMP’s quarantine facility along with 100 or more detainees as of April 22. He was transferred to a regular jail after two more weeks.

Who is Joseph Canlas?

Canlas was known in Central Luzon for his decades-long struggle against land grabbing and displacement of farmers in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, Pantabangan Dam, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija, Camp Gregg in Pangasinan, New Clark City, and expressways CLEX, TPLEX and SCTEX among others.

He finished BS Forestry at Pampanga Agricultural College and became an employee at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He soon became exposed to corruption in the government agency, especially in the implementation of environmental projects.

Canlas eventually resigned from government work and formed the group Anak Gubat to continue his advocacy of protecting the environment. He became a member of the peasant group Aguman dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (AMC) in 1997. During this time, he was also elected as an officer of  Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Pampanga.

In 2003, he became the chairperson of the AMGL and led a membership reaching up to 10,000 farmer-members. According to a Bayan-Gitnang Luson, Canlas led successful people’s campaigns in Central Luzon such as the agricultural workers’ strike in Hacienda Luisita, and against infrastructure projects like the New Clark City, Balog-Balog Dam, Aboitiz Geothermal Powerplant, massive land use conversion and the displacement of farmers and Aetas.

In the middle of the pandemic while he was being constantly red-tagged and harassed by state security forces, Canlas was still at the forefront of relief efforts and calls for sufficient health services and economic assistance to peasants and Aetas in Central Luzon.

His organizations KMP, AMGL, Bayan, as well as other progressive groups have denounced the injustice against the peasant leader. In a statement, the KMP said “we could only blame the Duterte administration for his untimely death. His unjust detention led to the swift deterioration of his health condition.”

“We point our fingers to the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that subjected Canlas to constant red-tagging, Angeles City RTC Executive Judge Ma. Angelica T. Paras-Quiambao who issued the search warrant against Canlas, the PNP-CIDG that executed the defective warrant and carried out the illegal arrest last March 30, and the BJMP for consciously neglecting Canlas’ health condition,” the peasant group said.

According to KMP, peasant organizations and land reform advocates will hold a series of protests, starting with an indignation rally at the Commission of Human Rights complex in Quezon City this afternoon, May 11.

With reports from Ratziel San Juan and Pokus Gitnang Luson 

Joseph Canlas in a coma; KMP blames neglect by jail authorities

Detained Central Luzon-based peasant leader Joseph Canlas tested positive of the dreaded coronavirus disease and is now in a coma in a Pampanga hospital, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said.

The farmers’ group said Canlas has low oxygen levels despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator since his transfer to the intensive care unit Sunday morning.

Canlas complained of difficulty in breathing and stuttering speech on Saturday, leading his family to suspect he both has Covid and has suffered a stroke.

The veteran land reform advocate, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon chairperson and KMP vice chairperson, was arrested in Mexico, Pampanga on March 30 on the standard charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police.

Joseph Canlas after his arrest. (KMP photo)

KMP said Canlas was in stable physical condition before his arrest and detention but his health quickly deteriorated due to neglect by jail authorities as well as severe and miserable jail conditions.

“If jail authorities thoroughly checked Canlas’s health condition, they would have known that he has hypertension and diabetes which makes him more vulnerable to COVID infection,” KMP said.

“If he received proper medical attention while in detention, then the risks could have been lessened,” the group added.

KMP said Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Angeles District Warden Jail Supt. Rebecca Manalo-Tiguelo belittled Canlas’ initial complaints as well as those of other detainees.

“Last week, Canlas expressed that he was not feeling well but Manalo-Tiguelo simply dismissed Canlas’s ailment as ‘umaarte lang’ (just putting up an act),” KMP said.

The group also said Canlas and fellow detainees were refused Covid testing to determine if they were COVID positive.

“We highly suspect that Joseph Canlas got COVID infected while under quarantine inside BJMP jail facilities,” KMP said.

How he contracted Covid

In a statement, the KMP presented a timeline of Canlas’ health troubles:

March 30 – Canlas was illegally arrested in Barangay Sapang Maisac, Mexico, Pampanga. He was then brought to PNP Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga;

April 1 – He was transferred and put under quarantine at the CIDG Region 3. While quarantined, he was not allowed to receive visitors even from family members and counsel;

April 15 – After 14 days, he was transferred to the BJMP Detention Center in Angeles City after an X-ray examination. He was listed to be put under quarantine, as BJMP’s facility was full;

April 22 – He was put in BJMP’s quarantine facility, along with 100 or more detainees;

NNARA Youth UP Diliman photo

May 6 – After another 14 days, he was transferred to a regular jail, Selda 25;

May 7 – In a phone call with relatives, Canlas exhibited stuttering in speech. He also exhibited physical weakness and needed help in eating, walking, etc. By night time he had difficulties breathing;

May 8 – On Saturday evening, Canlas was rushed to a hospital in Angeles City due to a possible stroke and low oxygen level (74%, compared to the 95% and higher normal level);

May 9 – On early Sunday morning, he was transferred to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to acute respiratory failure and COVID;

May 10 – He is already in a coma, and still has low oxygen levels despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator.

Human rights groups and activists conducted an online rally on Monday calling for Canlas’ immediate release.

“Ka Joseph does not even deserve a day in detention, yet he is now in a life-threatening situation due to grave government neglect and deprivation of necessary health and medical attention,” KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Central Luzon’s most prominent political detainee fights for life in ICU

Detained peasant leader Joseph Canlas is in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a Pampanga hospital, suspected to have suffered a stroke and contracted the dreaded coronavirus disease in jail.

Canlas’ daughter Jenette announced his father was rushed to a hospital on Sunday morning after complaining of breathing difficulties as early as Saturday afternoon.

The elder Canlas experienced breathing difficulties and stuttering speech on Saturday afternoon and his family pleaded to jail authorities to bring him to a hospital.

He was eventually admitted to the hospital’s ICU while awaiting his Covid-19 test result.

Canlas was apprehended by the Central Luzon Criminal Investigation and Detection Group unit of the Philippine National Police (CIDG-PNP) last March 30 in what the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said is a questionable arrest using a defective search warrant.

The police said guns and explosives were found at the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) staff house where Canlas was staying.

Canlas, a prominent land reform activist and peasant leader, is AMGL chairperson and KMP vice chairperson.

“The extreme stress of his unjust detention and cramped jail conditions led to the deterioration of Canlas’ health. He has hypertension and diabetes, both comorbidities of COVID-19,” the KMP said in a statement.

KMP demanded Canlas’ immediate release on humanitarian grounds as well as full medical attention until his recovery.

“This is an urgent matter of life and death and justice. The congested jail conditions will only worsen Canlas’ health,” the KMP said Sunday.

The group said the CIDG-PNP and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology JMP will be liable for any untoward incident that may befall Canlas under detention.

“Canlas does not even deserve a day in jail. The evidence and charges against him are all fabricated,” KMP said.

KMP said there are 3,500 reported Covid cases in BJMP facilities nationwide as of March 22.

Kapatid, the support group for families and friends of political prisoners, also called on the government and the trial court in charge of Canlas’ case to release the detainee, saying that he deserves to be proper taken care of by his family and be given full medical attention.

“Let him fight for his life without the burdens brought by his continued unjust imprisonment for planted firearms,” the group’s spokesperson Fidel Lim said.

“We renew our call to the Supreme Court to fast-track the release of sick and elderly prisoners like Canlas as they are at great risk from the upsurge of the deadly COVID-19,” Lim added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Restless night for rights defenders, activists

It had been a restless night for human rights defenders and activists who had been on alert against more police raids after the arrests of activists on Holy Tuesday, March 30.

“We are on alert tonight and expecting more raids in the offices of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan(Bayan)-Timog Katagaluganand Gabriela Southern Tagalog, all in Cabuyao, Laguna,” KMU’s regional chapter Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik) yesterday said.

 “Residents near the offices have seen police elements in full battle gear roving the areas near the offices,” the group added.

Pamantik’s alert status was announced after operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided the abandoned office of its affiliate, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN) in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna also on Tuesday.

As in almost all raids against activists throughout the country, the police alleged it found firearms and explosives in the property.

“Nagtanim ang mga ito (PNP-CIDG) ng tila isang ‘armory’ ng mga baril, granada, bala at bomba,” KMU said after the Laguna raid. (The police again planted a seeming armory of guns, grenades, ammunitions and bombs.)

The raid came after the Bloody Sunday killings in four Southern Tagalog provinces last March 6, and just two days after the death of Dandy Miguel, Pamantik vice-chairperson.

It also followed the raid and arrests of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon chairperson and concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas vice chairperson Jose Canlas in Pampanga and Bayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson and KMU vice chairperson for Central Luzon Florentino “Pol” Viuya in Tarlac on Tuesday.

Karapatan paralegal May Arcilla was arrested along with Viuya after vigorously protesting so-called irregularities in the operation.

As in the Sta. Rosa raid, the police alleged it found guns and explosives in the houses it raided in Central Luzon.

The “huli” (arrest, capture) week actually started in Bulacan province last Friday with the arrest of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Pandi chapter chairperson Connie Opalla by the police.

The police have yet to announce Opalla’s whereabouts despite announcing her arrest on its Facebook page.

“Huli Week” had been a moniker invented by Karapatan human rights workers since the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to describe the spike in the number of arrests of activists during Holy Week.

The PNP is known to favor the filing of so-called trumped up charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives, an unbailable criminal offense, to frustrate human rights lawyers from securing the victims’ early release. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Si Duterte mismo ang kalbaryo sa magbubukid’

“The Duterte regime knows nothing but to repress the people. Farmers have been demanding aid and production subsidy as the pandemic and economic crisis rages, yet it has repeatedly attacked legitimate peasant leaders and organizations. Si Duterte mismo ang kalbaryo sa magbubukid!”Danilo Ramos, National Chairperson, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

KMP: Land-grabbers murder farmer, burn down houses

Landgrabbing has led to the gruesome murder of a farmer in Norzagaray, Bulacan and arson in Calamba, Laguna the last two weeks, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) reported.

Norzagaray farmer Rommy Torres was found stuffed inside a plastic drum in faraway Mabitac, Laguna last Friday after being reported missing last February 4.

The drum where Rommy torres had been stuffed. (KMP photo)

Torres reportedly went to harvest bananas in his farm lot within a disputed 75.5 hectare area in Sitio Compra, Barangay San Mateo last February 2 but has since failed to come home.

The stench coming from the drum led residents to discover the body of Torres that bore gunshot wounds in the mouth, chest, and back.

Torres was among agrarian reform beneficiaries involved in a land dispute with Royal Moluccan Realty Holdings Inc. (RMRHI) whose guards have recently filed theft charges against 14 farmers who were harvesting bananas and coconuts inside the property.

Investigators said the murderers poured concrete into the drum to further hide Torres’ remains. (KMP photo)

In a statement, the KMP slammed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for its continuing failure to farmers from land-grabbing by landlords and corporations.

“The DAR should be more proactive in resolving land dispute cases, especially when the entities involved employ violence and terror. In this case, instead of protecting the farmers and ensuring their right to the land, DAR watched from afar. The hands of DAR Secretary John Castriciones are stained with blood,” KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

Ramos said that the Office of the President (OP), in a decision dated December 29, 2015, had ordered that portions of the disputed land in Norzagaray which have been developed agriculturally prior to 1988 should be compulsorily acquired by the government for distribution.

The farmer families residing on the disputed land have been tilling the land since the 1960s, he added.

The peasant leader explained that an April 25, 2017 decision from the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) had already dismissed a petition from RMRHI, which was affirmed by a Court of Appeals decision last June 17, 2020.

The farmers of Norzagaray thus have a strong legal basis for their continued assertion of their rights to the land they reside in and tilled, the KMP said.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: KMP reports more attacks against farmers in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog

“They have dutifully complied with legal processes as they faced the illegal and savage acts of Royal Moluccan. Meanwhile, DAR watched from afar as Royal Moluccan’s goons evicted the farmers, fenced their lands, and continually harassed them after, chasing them further off as they tried living on the margins of what was once their farm lots,” Ramos said. 

Both decisions failed in preventing DARAB sheriff Virgilio Robles Jr. from executing a demolition of the farmers’ homes in March 2018 and October 2019, however, KMP said.

A victim watches as their house burns to the ground. (KMP photo)

Arson in Hacienda Yulo

Torres’ gruesome murder followed the arson of two houses within disputed properties in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna last January 22.

Houses belonging to Freddie Cacao and Mario Mangubat, members of the KMP-affiliated Samahan ng mga Magsasakang Nagkakaisa sa Buntog (Samana-Buntog), were torched by armed men believed to be employed by the Yulo-owned San Cristobal Realty, the KMP said.

The perpetrators dragged Cacao and wife Criselda at gunpoint before setting fire to the house, the group reported.

The same group set fire to Mangubat’s house an hour later while his wife Dottie was inside.

TERROR IN HACIENDA YULO: Mga gwardiya ng Hacienda Yulo, nanutok ng baril sa magsasaka

Last January 9, armed men also demolished two houses in the area while they trained high-powered guns on terrified residents, the KMP reported

The goons also attacked a certain Jojo De Leon while ransacking and destroying several houses.

The perpetrators also fired their guns that injured four farmers, KMP said.  

San Cristobal Realty has reportedly entered into a deal with Ayala Land, Inc. for the construction of another high-end project in the area.

Samana-Buntog said government’s inaction in land disputes and the absence of a genuine land reform in the country had led to violence against them.

Samana-Buntog spokesperson Leo Mangubat said the government has exempted portions of Hacienda Yulo from industrial development since the early 1990s but are yet to be given to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Mangubat said their ancestors had been tilling their farm lots since the 1910 Taal Volcano eruption.

“Our ancestors have been here way before the DoJ (Department of Justice) opinion of 1990, the CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) of 1988, and the Yulo family’s claim which began only in 1948,” Mangubat said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)