Protect us, land reform beneficiaries beg Duterte | Inquirer News

Protect us, land reform beneficiaries beg Duterte

/ 05:02 AM May 27, 2021

ILOILO CITY—Agrarian reform beneficiaries in Capiz province have sought the intervention of President Duterte after two of their group’s members were shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen on Monday night.

“We have nowhere else to go. The law is already on our side, but still, we are being shot and killed. We don’t want violence to beget violence. Thus, we want an urgent response from President Duterte,” Teresita Billonid, a leader of Montecarlo Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (Montecarba), said in a statement.

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“[The President] must intervene now and end our long suffering. Peace should be restored and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” she added.

Stopping violence

Two Montecarba farmers, including Billonid’s husband, Jose Sony, were wounded after armed men fired at them near their houses at Barangay Dulangan in Pilar town.

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Jose Sony underwent surgery due to a bullet wound in his belly while the other victim, Bernard Amistoso, was hit in the arm. They were among 175 farmers installed on a property spanning 188 hectares by the Department of Agrarian Reform on May 11.

The land was awarded to the farmers by the government in 1997 but their installation was blocked and resisted by the now deceased landowner and his heirs who sought the cancellation of the certificates of land ownership award and stop the property from being subjected to agrarian reform.

One of the beneficiaries, Orlando Eslana, was shot and killed in a confrontation between some of the beneficiaries and supporters and heirs of the landowner on Feb. 11, 2017.

Four other farmers were wounded in that incident, including Eslana’s sister, Melinda Eslana-Arroyo, who remains paralyzed with a bullet fragment still embedded in her head.

“This violence and injustice must stop now. Otherwise, our lives will always be in danger until all of our blood spills on the land that should have been the source of our strength and longevity,” Billonid said in a statement released by the national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad (TFM).

TFM condemned the attack on the agrarian reform beneficiaries and called on government agencies and the police to ensure the safety of the farmers.

“These brazen acts of injustice and mockery of the rule of law must stop now. The greed of landlords has reached the level of madness. They have taken the law into their own hands. They are acting like oppressive mini-gods in their bailiwicks, fearing no one, threatening, hurting and killing anyone who catches their ire,” said Teresita Tarlac, president of TFM’s Negros-Panay Chapter. —NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.

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TAGS: attacks on land reform beneficiaries, Rodrigo Duterte
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