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‘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

Groups oppose Duterte’s plan to arm civilians

Farmers and human rights groups expressed opposition to a statement by President Rodrigo Duterte ordering the arming of civilian groups to help in law enforcement, saying such move could lead to more unwarranted and merciless killings.

In separate statements, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Karapatan and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said so-called force multiplier groups under the Duterte government may lead to more extrajudicial killings.

“As if police brutality and the PNP’s (Philippine National Police) abuse of power are not enough, Duterte openly allows civic groups to carry arms. This is unacceptable and must be opposed. Tokhang killings have cost more than 30,000 lives,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

Tokhang refers to extrajudicial killings of suspected illegal drug dependents by the police and suspected State agents since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016.

At the launch of the PNP-backed Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan, Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers in Camp Crame last Friday, Duterte ordered that the group carry firearms to help in law enforcement.

“If you have this coalition, you have a list of people who are there who can arm themselves. I will order the police if you are qualified, get a gun, and help us enforce the laws,” he said.

KMP said the public must oppose the proposal and Duterte’s move to turn so-called civic groups into his private army and death squads.

“Arming these civic groups will do more harm than good to the civilian population,” Ramos said.

Rights group Karapatan also expressed opposition to Duterte’s statement, citing abuses by state forces under his government.

“Arming them will further weaponize these groups as paramilitaries, which have a long bloody history of human rights violations, for the administration’s whole of nation approach in both campaigns — a tactic that merely uses the population to subvert civilian authority for militarist and fascist objectives and ends,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

The government’s own human rights agency opposed the proposal, saying armed civilian groups may cause more killings instead of being a deterrent to crime.

“Elections are fast approaching. We don’t want election-related violence to rise,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

“We also don’t want this proposal to be an excuse for armed groups to be used by politicians. We don’t want a Maguindanao Massacre to happen again,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘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.

‘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

Groups welcome Senate bill criminalizing red-tagging

Several groups welcomed a bill filed by Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon criminalizing red-tagging, promising to strongly lobby for its passage.

Both the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said they support the measure that seeks to penalize the act.

“This is a very welcome development in the people’s fight against State-sponsored red-tagging and human rights violations. We are hoping for the approval of this measure. Farmers will lobby for the passage of this bill,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.  

The farmers’ group said it is being consistently red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

“Many of our leaders and members who were subjected to red-tagging were either extrajudicially-killed, illegally arrested, and charged with trumped-up non-bailable charges. Red-tagging kills. We want masterminds of red-tagging to be held accountable accordingly,” Ramos said.

In a separate statement, the NUJP said it also welcomes Drilon’s bill seeking to define and penalize red-tagging by State actors.

“These dangerous accusations, when done by state agents as part of a so-called counter-insurgency program, are no longer private opinions and conspiracy theories but official actions and policy,” the NUJP said.

Like the KMP, NUJP has been openly and repeatedly accused by government officials of fronting for the Communist Party of the Philippines, an allegation it has consistently denied.

“Red-tagging has often led to harassment and violence against its targets and NUJP welcomes moves that will protect journalists from these threats and hold those making them to account,” it said. Filed on Wednesday, March 24, Drilon’s measure seeks to define red-tagging as “the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping or caricaturing individuals, groups or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning subversives, communists or terrorists, or as part of counter-insurgency, or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary or military personnel.”

The Senate Bill also seeks a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office for violators. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bulacan LGU destroys crops and trees

A local government unit destroyed a 2.7-hectare farmland planted with vegetables and mature fruit-bearing trees last January 16 in Bulacan province, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) reported.

Hundreds of crop-bearing trees were destroyed and flattened by members of the San Jose Del Monte City Public Order and Safety Office (SJDM-POSO) last Saturday, reportedly upon the instructions of a relative of Mayor Arthur Robes.  

The relative was identified as a certain Obet Robes.

The farmland tilled by the Ajose family in Sitio Dalandanan, Barangay Tungkong Mangga in the said city was bulldozed, destroying crops including banana trees, pineapples, root crops, and eggplants, the KMP said.

According to the Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Dalandanan (SAMAGDA), a local affiliate of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan-KMP, the SJDM City Hall POSO employees went to the farmland presenting a canceled Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) and insisted that the farmers vacate the land.

SJDM City Hall POSO employees at the Ajose home asking the family to vacate the land. (Photo by Jhulian Ajose through the KMP)

The Ajose family said the POSO employees did not present a writ of execution or a court order for the bulldozing of their farmland, the farmers’ group said.

The destruction of the crops was said to be permitted by Mayor Arthur Robes, invoking his rights as the Mayor based on RA 8797 that converted SJDM as a component city, the group added.

Jhulian Ajose, whose parents started tilling the parcel of land in the 1990s, lamented the destruction of their crops.

“Bakit niyo kami pinaalis sa tinataniman naming lupa? Dito lang kami kumukuha ng kinabubuhay at pagkain namin, ng pang-paaral. Sa lupa na ito, dito kami umaasa. Ektaryang pananim ang sinira nyo!,” Ajose said. (Why are you driving us away from the land we are tilling. This is our source of livelihood, food and education expenses. We rely on this land. You have destroyed hectares of crops!)

“Hindi ninyo alam kung gaano ang hirap ng mga magulang namin. Sa bawat pagpapagal, sa bawat patak ng dugo at pawis, sa bawat sugat na tinatamo sa pagbubungkal at pagtatanim sa lupa na ito. Wala kayong awa sa mga katulad namin,” he added. (You have no idea of the hardships our parents have undergone, their efforts, their every drop of blood and sweat, their every injury for tilling this land. You have no pity for the likes of us.)

A San Jose del Monte City backhoe destroying banana crops at the Ajose farm. (Photo by Jhulian Ajose through the KMP)

The KMP said that the farmers of Barangay Tungkong Mangga, one of the few remaining agricultural villages in SJDM, had been suffering development aggression and intensifised landgrabbing since the MRT-7 depot and train station projects started.

“Land grabbing and land-use conversion are prevalent in SJDM, among the prime targets of land developers and real estate corporations such as the Villar family-owned Vista Land and Landscapes Inc. The city is being developed by the local government as a ‘New Super City’ and Metro Manila’s gateway to Central Luzon,” the KMP said.

More than a thousand farming families are threatened once the MRT-7 project is completed, wiping out 588 hectares of agricultural lands in Tungkong Mangga,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

KMP reports more attacks against farmers in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog

Farmers’ homes  were demolished in Orion, Bataan by a combined forced of about 200 police officers and a 100-member demolition team in Sitio Bangad, Orion, Bataan last Thursday, January 14, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) reported.

The KMP said former Government Service Insurance Corporation president Federico Pascual ordered the demolition of houses owned by 42 families to give way to a lucrative residential project with Sta. Lucia Realty.

Police officers in full battle gear assist Federico Pascual’s demolition team. (KMP photo)

Police officers in full battle gear assisted the demolition team, KMP-supplied photos show.

“The ongoing demolition is the latest in a series of displacement of farmers and residents in the area. In February 2020, the collective resistance of farmers has succeeded in preventing the attempts of Pascual’s men to demolish and displace the farmers and their families,” the KMP said.

Last March 23, 2020, at the height of the coronavirus lockdown and quarantine in Luzon, Pascual ordered the fencing of the disputed land and displaced the farmers from the 33-hectare landholding, KMP said.

The farmer-families said they have been tilling the land with palay, vegetables, and fruit-bearing trees for over two decades as part of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Zaldy Montemayor, leader of local farmers group Samahan ng mga Magbubukid sa Sitio Bangad, said Pascual had been manoeuvring to have the farmers exempted from CARP but the businessperson could not present proper documents issued by the Land Registration Authority.

A farmers’ house completely destroyed by Federico Pascual’s demolition team. (KMP photo)

Aside from being a former GSIS president, Pascual is also the President of the Bataan Peninsula State University, a member of the Bureau of Customs Governing Council, chairperson of the San Antonio Resources Inc, and a shareholder Sinagtala Farm Resort and Retreat Park located in Bataan.

Pascual also owns shares in several other companies, and formerly held corporate leadership posts at the Philippine National Bank, Allied Banking Corp., and Alabang Country Club as well as a director of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

The KMP said Pascual is using his wealth and influence in his actions against the farmers of Sitio Bangad.

The group said the Bataan incident followed the destruction of houses and attacks on farmers at Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City.

Terror at Hacienda Yulo

In Laguna, armed guns and goons of the Yulo-owned San Cristobal Realty demolished two houses while they trained high-powered guns on terrified residents, the KMP reported

Last January 9, the group said goons also attacked a certain Jojo De Leon while ransacking and destroying several houses.

The perpetrators also fired their guns that injured four farmers, the group added.  

The Hacienda Yulo incidents were the latest in an ongoing harassment campaign against the farmers that started in July 2020, the KMP said.

“These include the fencing off of farm lots, destruction of crops and burning of houses of the farmers,” KMP said.

WATCH: Terror at Hacienda Yulo

As in Bataan, the Yulo family is trying to drive away farmers to pave the way for a deal between San Cristobal Realty and Ayala Land, Inc., the group said.

“The farmers had been tilling the land since 1911. It was them who developed the land and they have all the right to continue farming and living in it,” KMP added.

Yesterday, KMP also reported that farmers in Norzagaray, Bulacan were charged with theft for harvesting their own coconut and banana crops by another private company, Royal Mollucan Realty Holding Inc.

READ: Farmers charged with theft for harvesting their own crops

“Just how heartless the land grabbing families of Villar, Yulo, Ayala, Pascuals, can be? A pandemic, widespread joblessness and bankruptcy, and successive typhoons have already ravaged the lives of poor farmers, and yet these landed haciendero-oligarchs continue to violently eject our food security frontliners,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Farmers vow to fight ChaCha, 100% land ownership by foreigners

A farmers’ group said it will oppose efforts at the House of Representatives to tinker with the Constitution, saying charter change (ChaCha) will only benefit President Rodrigo Duterte as well as foreign powers and local political warlords.

In a statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the proposed 100% ownership of land by foreigners will worsen landlessness, poverty, and hunger among the majority of the Filipino population.

““The revived Charter change proposals will only make worse the current Constitution and will aggravate the situation of Filipinos now reeling from the effects and heavy burden of the pandemic and economic recession,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

“ChaCha will also further bastardize the existing system of governance dominated by landlords and oligarchs,” Ramos added.

KMP is among the various groups that trooped to the HOR this morning as theHouse Committee on Constitutional Amendments is conducting a hearing on proposed revisions to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. 

The bill wanting to amend the Constitution was filed by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco he said is aimed at removing the remaining protectionist economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Other proponents of the change, such as Ako Bicol Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr., said the protections in the charter make it difficult for the government to create more jobs and improve the economy, more so that it has been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The KMP however said the move aims to further open the local economy to the plundering of land grabbers and large foreign corporations.

“The economic and political repercussions of ChaCha will be irreversible. Filipinos must fight ChaCha attempts to the end,” KMP said.

The farmers added it is like handing the entire Philippines on a silver platter for foreign businesses to devour.

“We cannot allow foreign businesses to take over our land, natural resources, media, and strategic industries. We cannot be second-class citizens in our own country. With ChaCha, everything else will worsen for Filipinos,” the group explained.

KMP warned that multinational agricorporations such as Del Monte, DoleFil, Sumifru and other large plantations, as well as foreign mining companies, will further expand at the expense of farmers and indigenous peoples.

President Duterte also earlier said he wants changes in the Constitution to remove the Party List system and punish Leftist parties that have consistently won seats in Congress.

“All democracy and freedom-loving Filipinos must [therefore] resist Charter Change and Duterte’s tyranny,” the KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Another farmer killed in Bohol as 9 Tumandok are massacred in Panay

Another peasant activist in Bohol Province was killed just as nine Tumandok  civilians in Panay Island were being massacred last Wednesday in one of the bloodiest day for farmers under the four-year old Rodrigo Duterte government.

Lorenzo “Dodoy” Paña of Barangay Bantolinao, Antequera town was gunned down by unidentified motorcycle riding men around 9:00 AM last December 30 at Barangay Dorol, Balilihan town in Bohol, peasant organization Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (HUMABOL-KMP) said.

Paña was on his way to bring lunch for his son working at a nearby construction site when fired upon by unidentified perpetrators.

Paña was a former officer of Hugpong sa Mag-uuma Dapit sa Kasadpan (HUMANDA KA), a formation of Humabol chapters in the first district of Bohol.

In 2018, the victim, along with his wife and children, worked as volunteers for the construction of a coconut processing plant managed by farmers organizations in Barangay Tinibgan, Maribojoc which now produces virgin coconut oil.

In June 26, 2018, the victim’s house was subjected to a warrantless search by around 30 members of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the said province.

His family complained of maltreatment during the said incident, HUMABOL-KMP said.

In previous years, the Paña family also reported of being harassed by state forces.

Paña’s killing happened while the 12th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (12IBPA) troopers and the PNP in Western Visayas killed nine Tumandok indigenous peoples in Capiz and Iloilo provinces, also in the Visayas.

Bohol peasant activist Lorenzo “Dodoy” Paña, killed in Balilihan, Bohol last December 30. (Humabol-KMP photo)

Immediate condemnation of the Tumandok massacre

The massacre in Panay Island earned swift condemnation from church leaders and organizations.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, whose Diocese suffered similar police and military Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) that also resulted in massacres, cried out, “Do we have to kill our perceived ‘enemies’ – especially if they are unarmed?”

“Is this the way we celebrate Christmas as a Christian country about to welcome the New Year and 500 Years of Christianity [in the Philippines?” the prelate asked.

“How long will this spiral of violence continue? Have we run out of peaceful means? Are we that desperate? Do we really, seriously believe this is the effective and lasting way to solve our social ills? I RAISE MY VOICE TO CRY OUT: “NO MORE KILLING!” We want PEACE – JUST and LASTING PEACE!” he added.

The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PNP) in Panay and Guimaras islands directly blamed PNP chief Debold Sinas for the death of nine Tumandok leaders and activists yesterday.

“The brazen extra-judicial killings and illegal arrests of leaders of the Tumandok, an indigenous people of Panay, on the early hours of yesterday in the mountainous villages of Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog, Iloilo is part of the nationwide implementation of PNP Chief Sinas’ version of ‘political tokhang’, his brainchild SEMPO,” PCPR’s Fr. Marco Sulayao said in a statement.

The faith-based group also blamed National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) agent Jeffrey Celis it said petitioned for the search warrants in Metro Manila Regional Trial Courts used for the operations.

“Blood is on the hands of NTF-ELCAC red-taggers, especially Jeffrey Celis, who according to [a] reliable source, petitioned for the said warrants,” PCPR said.

National labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) included President Rodrigo Duterte in the blame for the massacre.

“The blood of the Tumandok is in the hands of Duterte, Sinas, PNP and NTF-ELCAC. They wantonly kill the indigenous peoples to give way to projects of big capitalists,” KMU said in a statement.

“We condemn this heinous killing perpetrated by the mercenary AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) -PNP. It is most likely that the police and military will present the killed and arrested Tumandok as members of the New People’s Army when in fact, they are just farmers and indigenous people defending their ancestral land and farms against land grabbing,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said. 

Indigenous people’s group Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) also denounced “the government’s wanton disregard for human rights and laments the death of our people’s heroes.”

“Our fight against the construction of Jalaur and Pan-ay Dams have not ended yet so we remain resolute in defending what’s left of our rivers and forests. Despite violence and threats, we will relentlessly and fiercely stand against corporate plunder and the destruction of the environment,” Katribu said in a statement.

“The indigenous peoples have nowhere to run to anymore. We will certainly hold the line,” it added.

An IP rights advocate calls for the dissolution of the government agency they blame for red-tagging the victims that led to their massacre. (Katribu photo)

Red-tagged victims

Killed in the synchronized and simultaneous operations in the neighboring towns were former Barangay Captain and  current Tumandok nga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi (TUMANDUK) chairperson Roy Giganto, his Barangay Lahug co-councilors Reynaldo Katipunan, and Mario Aguirre; Eliseo Gayas Jr. of Barangay Aglinab, Tapaz; Mario Diaz of Barangay Tacayan, Tapaz; Artilito Katipunan of Barangay Acuna, Tapaz; and Barangay Nawayan chairperson Dalson Catamen of Tapaz.

Former TUMANDUK chairperson and Tapaz local government employee Marevic Aquirre is missing, believed to have been abducted by the police.

Two youth residents of Barangay Aglinab, Tapaz town are also reported missing.

The PNP reported it arrested 17 other Tumandok from its SEMPO.

“These Tumandok leaders were very active in reclaiming their ancestral land now occupied by the 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army military reservation. They were also active in resisting the construction of the Jalaur mega-dam,” PCPR said.

The community of Lahug also resisted the coercion of military troopers to sign a resolution declaring the CPP/NPA as “persona non grata” in their barangay, the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

AFP, PNP troops kill 5 mango orchard workers in Rizal

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) killed five mango orchard workers in Baras, Rizal last Thursday, December 17, human rights and peasant groups reported.

Troops belonging to the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) of the AFP and the Region IV-A Command of the PNP killed Carlito Zonio, Vilma Salabao, Wesley Obmerga, Jonathan Alberga, and Niño Alberga, workers of a mango farm in Sitio Malalim, Barangay San Juan of the said town, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said.

The AFP said the 2:30 AM incident was a shootout with members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The AFP added they conducted the pre-dawn raid to serve a warrant of arrest to a certain Antonio Cule that resulted in an encounter and the death of the victims.

Brigadier General Alex Rillera, 202nd Infantry Brigade commander, said two of the victims were “Ka Sandra” and “Ka Onli” of the NPA.

Philippine Army social media accounts also alleged the victims were NPA members, one of them was even a “top spy” for the group.

But Karapatan-ST, quoting eyewitnesses and the victims’ neighbors, said Zonio,  Salabao, and Obmerga were farm caretakers and mango tree sprayers while the Albergas were guards.

The victims had been workers at the farm in the last three years.

Marco Valbuena, Communist Party of the Philippines public information officer, denied the victims were NPA members.

“We denounce the AFP’s peddling of fake news to cover up their criminal responsibility in the Baras 5 Massacre,” Valbuena said in a tweet.

PNP refuses to release cadavers

The police took the remains of the victims to the Antipolo Memorial Homes but refused to release the cadavers of three of the victims to their families.

The remains of the guards were handed over to their relatives.

The Karapatan-ST fact-finding team also complained of harassment by PNP teams when they assisted families of the three in retrieving their cadavers from the funeral home Monday night, December 21.

Police officers demanded that members of the fact-finding team alight from their vehicles and present their identification cards.

The human rights workers refused.

The harassment continued last December 22 at the Antipolo police station where a Karapatan paralegal was isolated and forced to erase photos from his camera.

In a statement, Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) joined Karapatan and the peasant organizations affiliated with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in condemning “yet another state-sponsored massacre.”

SAKA said, “Instead of counting presents this holiday season, the Filipino people are counting corpses.”

The murder of the so-called Baras 5 raises the peasant death toll under President Rodrigo Duterte to 295, SAKA added.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)