DAR probes killings of 5 farmers in Ecija, Isabela
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has formed legal teams to investigate last week’s killings of five farmers in the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Isabela to determine if these attacks were triggered by land disputes.
On Sept. 3, armed men opened fire at a group of farmers, killing Emerencia dela Rosa, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay in Barangay San Isidro in Nueva Ecija’s Laur town. The farmers were resting at 2 p.m. after building huts on agrarian land that had been segregated from the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation.
On Sept. 7, three men killed Ariel Diaz, head of the Danggayan Dagiti Manalon (Dagami), at his farm in Villa Pereda in Delfin Albano town in Isabela.
Dagami is an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, which Mariano used to chair before President Duterte appointed him to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Mariano said the fact-finding teams are led by Undersecretary Luis Meinrado Pangulayan and Assistant Secretary Elmer Distor, both from the legal affairs office of the DAR.
The teams also consist of the DAR regional directors, provincial agrarian reform officer and their legal division chiefs, as well as a representative of an organization of farmers.
Mariano committed to help bring justice to the slain farmers.
This was not the first attack in Laur. On July 9, 2010, Pascual Guevarra, the leader of a farmers’ group in San Isidro village, was shot dead.
Maj. Gen. Angelito de Leon, commander of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Magsaysay, said the farmers were on portions of a 3,100-hectare lot which was turned over to DAR through Executive Order No. 448 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino. She ordered the lands apportioned to landless farmers and tillers displaced by Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruptions. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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