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Farmers groups, lawyers laud dismissal of 2 charges against ‘Tinang 83’

The Capas Municipal Trial Court has dismissed the illegal assembly and malicious mischief charges against the Tinang 83, a decision immediately lauded by farmers groups and their lawyers.

In a decision released Monday, June 27, Presiding Judge Antonio M. Pangan said the prosecution failed to allege essential facts to the charges of illegal assembly and malicious mischief against the farmers and their supporters.

The judge added that the court has no jurisdiction over the case as it involves an agrarian dispute and should be referred to the Tarlac Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office for proper action.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) welcomed the dismissal of the first two of seven charges against those mass-arrested in Concepcion town on June 9.

“We laud the Court for recognizing the utter baseless-ness of the charges against the farmer-beneficiaries and their supporters. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from everyone especially the lawyers and paralegals who worked tirelessly for this victory,” the KMP said.

Dispositive portion of Capas MTC’s dismissal of the first 2 complaints against the Tinang 83. (Photo by Atty. Jo Clemente)

The farmers’ lawyers belonging to the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) also hailed the dismissal, saying they are glad that the Court acted objectively and speedily.

“As we have said from the start, there is no factual and legal basis for the charges,” SENTRA said.

“We laud the courage and independence of Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Pangan. His swift action saved not just the accused but also the Filipino People from the expenses and rigours of a long-drawn but useless trial,” the lawyers added.

The farmers and their supporters are facing five other charges before several Courts in Tarlac.

The dismissal of the charges is the second successive victory for the farmers after the DAR in Tarlac has recognized them as genuine land reform beneficiaries over the disputed property last June 20.

READ: DAR list affirms Tinang farmers are the real land owners—KMP

Countersuits

The lawyers said their clients plan on filing countersuits in behalf of their clients.

“[T]he anxiety and trauma that the illegal arrest and the filing of cases against the 83, who are mostly students and artists, should not be left unchecked and unpunished. Thus, the 83 will file counter-charges against the police, the officers of the Cooperative, and possibly against the inquest prosecutor who filed the cases against them,” SENTRA revealed.

The group also said the farmer’s cooperative claiming ownership of the disputed farmland should also be made liable for its use of the land for almost 26 years without paying a single centavo to the real beneficiaries.

The KMP said it remains vigilant as the quest for justice for the beneficiaries goes on.

“[T]he unlawful conduct of state agents led by OIC PNP Reynold Concepcion Chief Macabitas and Acting Provincial Prosecutor Mae Montefalco must not be left without consequences,” it said.

Members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers are also providing free legal assistance to the farmers and their supporters.

Time for the farmers to own the land

Both SENTRA and the KMP called on the DAR to finally resolve the land dispute, saying the real beneficiaries still do not have full control and access over their land.

“We call on the DAR to immediately install the farmers since there is no longer any reason not to. The farmers should enjoy the land and the harvests thereon being the legitimate owners.” SENTRA said.

“[W]e invoke the authority of the DAR to investigate the acts of incoming municipal mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac Noel Villanueva who from the very start favored the side of the complainants, and took an active role in the prosecution of this malicious and baseless case against the legitimate farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Tinang,” it added

“[T]he struggle of the Tinang farmers continues as their formal installation as beneficiaries remain undone. The threat of additional schemes also remain as (Tarlac Representative and incoming Conception mayor) Noel Villanueva and his minions desperately cling onto the Tinang farmers’ land,” the KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

DAR list affirms Tinang farmers are the real land owners—KMP

The mass-arrested farmers at Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac on June 9 are the rightful owners of the property after all, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) announced.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has reaffirmed that all 94 members of local peasant group Makisama-Tinang are among the 178 beneficiaries of its revalidated list released on Monday, June 20, the KMP said in an announcement.

The announcement included photos of DAR banners announcing an “Initial List of Qualified Beneficiaries” the KMP said were displayed at Concepcion Municipal Hall, Tinang Barangay Hall and at the hut at the contested 200 hectare property.

“[The list] bolsters the rightful claim of the Tinang farmers to the plot they cultivated with supporters last June 9, cementing the utter baseless-ness of the charges filed against them,” the KMP said.

“At the same time, it further cripples the wobbly claims by land grabber and incoming Mayor Noel Villanueva, his puppet cooperative, and the police, of any offense from the part of the Tinang farmers and their supporters,” the group added.

The KMP said that the DAR’s announcement of its long-awaited list will pave the way for the Tinang farmer-beneficiaries installation “at the soonest possible time.”

The group however warned that Villanueva, incumbent Representative and incoming Concepcion mayor, is expected to continue opposing the move.

DAR employees displaying “Initial List of Qualified Beneficiaries” at Tinang Barangay Hall (top photo) and at the contested property (above). [KMP photo]

“(L)and grabber Noel Villanueva is expected to try and continue to deprive the Tinang farmers of their land, as their clan has done for decades. For this, we encourage everyone to stay vigilant,” the KMP said.

Many Makisama-Tinang members were violently arrested with their supporters last June 9 while having lunch and were charged with illegal assembly and malicious mischief by the Concepcion police.

The farmers said the police acted upon orders of Villanueva who they blame for their four-day ordeal that drew widespread condemnation nationwide.

At their arraignment last June 19 at the Capas Municipal Trial Court in connection with their mass arrest, the farmers and their supporters were informed that the additional charges of Disobedience, Obstruction of Justice and Usurpation of Real Rights were filed against them by the police.

They will be arraigned on the additional charges at the Tarlac Regional Trial Court on June 28. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Farmers dismiss mega-farm proposal as not viable, urges lowering of prices of farm inputs instead

A farmers’ group said the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) mega-farm project proposal is not viable without genuine land reform and subsidies for farmers, proposing the immediate lowering of prices of farm inputs instead.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said DAR’s blueprint to try to bring down rice prices to P20 per kilo as “aspired for” by incoming President Ferdinand Marcos Jr is another form of lip service and empty promise to farmers in an obvious effort to pander to the incomingadministration.

“Truth be told, these DAR officials are only attempting to score brownie points from Bongbong Marcos Jr to retain their government posts,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

Marcos said during the recent campaign period he wishes to see rice retail prices reduced to P20, a statement he later clarified was only an aspiration.

KMP however said the dream of a P20 per kilo of rice will not happen under the government’s existing land reform program that obligates beneficiaries to pay for land amortization.

The group instead renewed its call for the DAR to cancel land amortization, grant more subsidies to farmer and reduce production costs for rice to ultimately become more affordable.

“In fact, most ARBs in rice lands still have unpaid principal amortization and cannot pay for the 6% interest per annum imposed by the government under the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),” Ramos revealed.

Obvious pandering

In a press conference Monday, DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz proposed to consolidate small and individual rice farms into mega-farms he dubbed as the “Programang Benteng Bigas sa Mamamayan” (PBBM, PHP20 Rice for the People Program).

PBBM is an obvious reference to an acronym Marcos supporters are already using to refer to the incoming president: President Bong Bong Marcos.

“The mega farm is a cluster of contiguous farms that are consolidated to form a sizable plantation capable of producing a large volume of farm products to meet the demands of consumers,” Cruz said.

The DAR said the PBBM may start with an initial 150,000 hectares that can produce an average of 142 cavans or sacks of rice per hectare per cropping season.

The agency said it will translate to a gain of PHP76,501 annually for agrarian reform beneficiaries, adding that if approved by the incoming Marcos government, it may lower the price of rice to PHP20 and liberate the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) from subsistence farming.

The KMP however dismissed the proposal, proposing instead the following steps to bring down rice prices:

  1. Stop amortization payments and condone unpaid fees by ARBs;
  2. Give enough subsidies for rice production instead of loans; and
  3. Lower prices of very expensive farm inputs.

Expensive farm inputs

Photo by Jek Alcaraz/Kodao

Former DAR secretary Rafael Mariano said the government must work to bring down rice production costs to P6 to P8 per kilo from the current P12.

“DAR’s capitalist farm-model in a small, old-fashioned and archipelagic country will not work,” he added.

The former KMP chairperson said the constantly rising fuel prices add to increasing fertilizer prices, now at a “staggering” P2,800 to P3,000 per bag.

 “Expensive cost of production hurts farmers economically and pushes them deeper into debts. All farm inputs, not just fertilizer, are at a record high, or at least 12% across agricultural commodities. Industry experts forecast that fertilizer prices will remain high until petroleum prices drop,” the KMP said.

The group said the addressing the problem of expensive farm inputs is imperative and more viable than DAR’s proposal.

“President-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr should first agree and heed the broad people’s demand to suspend fuel excise taxes. Ito ang unang hakbang para kagyat na mapababa ang presyo ng langis at bilihin. Bawat OPH ay nakakaapekto sa presyo ng bigas, pagkain, bilihin at mga serbisyo,” Mariano said. (This is the first step in order to lower the prices of goods and services. Every oil price hike contributes to spikes in the prices of rice and other food items, other goods and services.)

Mariano added that DAR’s PBBM’ target of 142 cavans (7.1 metric tons) per hectare is also too good to be true and is even higher than Vietnam’s average 10-year yield per hectare average of 5.41 MT.

The Philippines’ current average yield is only 4.35 MT per hectare (87 cavans).

Mariano ppointed out that Vietnam, one of the world’s top rice-producing and exporting countries, allocates around 6% of its budget to agriculture, in contrast to the Philippines average of around 3%.

“Gusto natin ng mura at abot-kayang bigas para sa masa pero dapat gawin sa makatotohan at siyentipikong paraan at huwag daanin sa bolahan.” (We want rice that is cheaper and affordable for the people. But we want factual projections based on scientific data, instead of false promises.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Araneta guards fire guns at farmers in SJDM

Farmers group to Bongbong Marcos: ‘Kausapin mo ang bayaw mo!’

Armed security personnel employed by the powerful Araneta family fired guns at a group of farmers and supporters conducting a fact-finding mission in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan on Friday morning.

In a statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said several guards armed with high-powered rifles fired at a team of eight paralegals and 20 farmers conducting an investigation on the reported illegal demolition of four houses last January 26.

The group reportedly included seven minors.

The shooting lasted for at least 10 minutes, injuring two, KMP said.

The KMP added that mobile phones, bags, wallets as well as relief goods were forcibly taken by the guards from the victims.

The January 26 demolition was the third within a year, following similar incidents in 2021.

Araneta’s guards have also closed farm roads in the area, further constricting the farmers’ livelihood, the KMP said.

Some of the armed guards who reportedly shot at the farmers and their supporters on Friday in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan. (Supplied photo by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura)

Araneta Properties, Inc., a company owned by Gregorio Araneta III and brother-in-law to presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., has been evicting farmers in Barangay Tungkong Mangga since 2013.

The site is being earmarked for the construction of a train station, a train depot and residential and commercial establishments similar to the family’s sprawling Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.

The area however has been farmed and planted with many fruit and vegetable crops for at least three decades by hundreds peasant families who are land reform beneficiaries of the government.

“Grabeng kahayupan ng mga Araneta. Wala silang kinikilalang batas, puro pandarahas!” KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said. (The Aranetas are very cruel. They do not respect laws; they only know violence.)

“We challenge 2022 candidates who have constantly pronounced themselves as pro-farmers to speak and act. Especially Marcos Jr. – kausapin mo ang bayaw mo (Talk to your brother-in-law)!” Ramos added.

The Unyon ng mga Mangggawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), a group along with the KMP and its provincial chapter Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan that was conducting the fact-finding mission, called on local government officials to intervene.

Tinatawagan namin ang atensyon ng lokal na pamahalaan at pulisya ng CSJDM na aksyunan ang kaganapang ito dahil ito ay lantarang paglabag sa [Commission on Elections] gun ban,” UMA said. (We call the attention of the local government and the police to take action on this incident because this is a brazen violation of COMELEC’s gun ban.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

No justice, no genuine land reform 35 years after Mendiola Massacre—KMP

Justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre and the struggle for genuine land reform they died for remain a rallying cry for farmers 35 years after the bloody incident, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said.

The farmers’ group that led 20,000 farmers in a rally near Malacanang Palace on January 22, 1987 said the 13 victims who died in the bloody dispersal are yet to given justice, as is their group’s call for an end to tyranny and for genuine land reform.

“The peasant movement pays tribute to Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Grampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez, and Roberto Yumul who were martyrs of the Mendiola Massacre,” the KMP said.

According to other accounts, 39 were also severely injured as a result of gunshot wounds.

KMP said the incident forced the Corazon Aquino government to pass the controversial Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) to pacify farmers but the measure was still based on the flawed Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Decree 27.

Both Aquino’s CARL and Marcos’ PD27 wanted farmers to pay for the land supposedly awarded to them while landlords were generously compensated for land taken from their control.

The laws also allowed land conversions and the driving away of farmers from agricultural lands they already tilled.

The KMP has earlier repeatedly said that exemptions guaranteed CARL’s failure, including so-called stock distribution options that benefitted the Aquino-controlled Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac Province.

The law had been extended twice that allowed the 5 governments that succeeded Aquino to implement the government’s land reform program.

At least 75 percent of Filipino farmers still do not own land however.

KMP said the current Rodrigo Duterte government has in fact worsened land conversion and destroyed collective farming initiatives, giving way to stronger control by landlords and foreign agro-industrial industries of large portions of the country’s agriculture sector.

“The Duterte regime also favored over-importation of agricultural products such as rice, pork, fish and others” that drive farmers into bankruptcy and onerous debts, the KMP said.

Farmers and human rights groups also reported that 347 farmers, mostly members of peasant organizations and land rights activists, have been killed under the Duterte regime.

Genuine justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre will only be achieved with the implementation of a genuine land reform and the development of Filipino agriculture, the KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

KMP demands the surfacing of missing Central Luzon activist, accuses gov’t forces of abducting organizer

Farmers’ organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) reported the abduction of a peasant and indigenous peoples organizer in Pampanga province on Saturday, November 6.

Based on initial reports it gathered, the KMP said long-time Central Luzon peasant organizer Steve Abua, 34 years old, was last seen in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Lubao town.

Abua’s wife received messages from his phone reportedly sent by his abductors and showing photos of the activist “visibly in distress” last Saturday, the group said.

“After an exchange of messages, the abductors directed Abua’s family to add a Facebook Messenger account and, through that, Mrs. Abua was able to see her husband via video call, the KMP said.

Mrs. Abua reportedly saw Steve wearing a white shirt, jeans, and a bonnet and sitting at the bottom bunk of a double deck bed.

“He had blindfolds, and cover on his mouth to prevent him from speaking,” the KMP alert said.

The KMP added that the abductors threatened Abua’s wife not to tell anyone outside of the family about Steve’s plight or she will not be able to see her husband anymore.

They also threatened that they could easily kill Steve if Mrs. Abua would not abide by their conditions, the group added.

Before working as a full-time peasant organizer in Central Luzon, Abua was a University of the Philippines-Diliman student leader who graduated with honors with a BS Statistics degree.

As a student leader, Abua was councilor of the UP School of Statistics Student Council and a member of the League of Filipino Students-UP Diliman.

A friend wrote on Facebook that Abua was a tireless student organizer who loves to play the guitar at UP Diliman’s Vinzon’s Hall and Sunken Garden.

He decided to become a full time activist and organizer after the 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre, also in Central Luzon.

Abua’s family believes that the perpetrators are state forces as the abductors kept repeating that the government just wants to give Abua a chance to turn a new leaf in life or “magbagong buhay,” the KMP said.

“We condemn this latest attack against peasant organizer and human rights defender Steve Abua. Surface Abua now and let him return safely to his family,” KMP leader Danilo Ramos said.

“We are appealing to any witnesses to give any information that could lead to the whereabouts of Steve Abua. It is likely that Abua was abducted to force him to surrender and cooperate with government agents from the NTF-ELCAC,” Ramos said.

The Abua family, through KARAPATAN-Central Luzon, already sought assistance from the Commission on Human Rights to locate the missing activist. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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.