Activist farmers’ group calls to end killings
Leftist farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called for justice, following the increasing number of killings of their fellow activist-farmers over the past year.
The KMP, in a press conference Wednesday, alleged that under the Duterte administration, 46 activist-farmers and members of indigenous peoples, mostly from southern Mindanao, have already been killed—22 of which occurred since Feb. 3, or right after the military declared all-out war against communist insurgents following the dissolution of peace talks with the government.
The latest of the killings monitored by the KMP happened just last March 27, in which three members of farmers’ group Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Laak (NAMULAK) namely Cora Molave Lina and Arman and Arlyn Almonicar, were shot dead in two separate incidents.
KMP Secretary-General Antonio Flores in an interview said the farmers were getting killed either because they were suspected as members of the communist armed wing New People’s Army (NPA), or even as just communist “supporters.” The KMP places the blame for the killings on the military.
The killings also mostly occur in areas with large-scale mining sites, which the farmers oppose, or experiencing “expansion of plantations,” Flores noted.
“The insane war against drugs and the all-out war campaign directed against the people highlight the fascist direction that the Duterte regime is apparently taking,” said Flores, in a statement. “Farmers who feed the nation are being killed. This is unacceptable and deserves widespread condemnation from broad sectors.”
The KMP, however, sees as a solution to the roots of the violence in the continuation of the peace talks, which they hope to address agrarian reform issues, such as the proposed free land distribution under the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser).
This is the same hopes carried by former KMP chair and now Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. Mariano had earlier noted that the “farmers stand most to gain” from the peace talks.
The DAR has likewise monitored the increasing killings of farmers starting January, though the numbers are lower at only 16. The agency also earlier noted the killings spiked in February, in the wake of the disbanded peace talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Mariano had said he condemned the spate of killings, and has ordered the DAR offices in all of the affected regions to resolve the agrarian disputes in their area. JE