Global Day of Action for Negros 14
Press Statement | 10 April 2019
Migrante Europe joins the global protest to condemn the barbaric killings of 14 farmers during the pre-dawn raids of Philippine National Police in Canlaon City and Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina towns in Negros province last Saturday 30 March 2019.
No one deserves to be killed in such a barbaric, inhuman and perverted manner! Not to these helpless poor farmers! We demand an immediate independent investigation and immediate freedom for those arrested!
Among the victims of the bloody massacre were Edgardo Avelino, 59, farmer, a resident of Sitio Carmen, Brgy. Panubigan, and chairperson of Hukom (Hugpong Kusog Mag-uuma sa Canlaon); his younger brother Ismael Avelino, 53 habal-habal (tricycle) driver, a resident of Sitio Carmen, Brgy. Panubigan and a member of Hukom and the Nagahuisang Mag-uuma sa Panubigan Namapa; Melchor Pañares, 67, farmer, a resident of Sitio Tigbahi, Brgy. Bayog; and his son Mario Pañares, 46, also a farmer; Rogelio Ricomuno, 52, farmer, a resident of Sitio Manggata, Brgy. Masulog-1; Ricky Ricomuno, 28, farmer; Gonzalo Rosales, 47, farmer and a resident of Proper Brgy. Pula; and Genes Palmares, 54, farmer, a resident of Proper Brgy. Aquino.
Habal-habal driver and peasant leader Franklen Lariosaand Anoj Enojo Rapada were killed in Sta. Catalina town. In Manjuyod,among those killed were Velentin Acabal of Brgy. Kandabong and Sonny Palagtiw of Brgy. Pansiao, both barangay captains in their villages; Steve Arapoc and Manulo Martin.
Fifteen others were arrested, including local Gabriela leader Corazon Javier, and Azucena Garubat, treasurer of Nagahuisang Mag-uuma sa Panubigan.
But in interviews with human rights workers, the families of the killed and arrested described scenes like what Metro Manila’s poor have witnessed in three years of President Rodrigo Duterte’s harsh crackdown on street peddlers and users of narcotics.
Police officers had their faces covered and, in at least one attack, wore eye shades in the dead of night. They ordered other people out of their homes. Suspects were already cornered, unarmed, and then shot dead as soon as kin were out of sight.
The husband of the arrested treasurer of Nagahuisang Mag-uuma sa Panubigan, Azucena Garubat, claimed cops planted two grenade launchers in their home. The local office of rights group Karapatan gave ABS-CBN News access to their notes.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, whose diocese covers the affected towns, said some of those killed belong to the church’s mission station in Masulog. A lay minister of Canlaon parish was among those arrested and some were not shown warrants.
End the harassment, persecution, illegal arrest and killing of human rights defenders, organized farmers and workers. Immediate freedom for those illegally arrested!
The crackdown against farmers under Duterte government intensifies.
More than 50 human rights defenders – mostly peasants or indigenous persons – have been killed since President Duterte assumed office in June 2016.
On August 23, 2017, Mr. Roger Timboco, a member of the peasant group KAMMAO (Kahugpungan sa mga Maguuma sa Maco ComVal), was shot dead in Mawab, Compostela Valley. Four days later, a member of Abante, a local organization of small-scale miners, Mr. Lomer Gerodias, was shot dead in Maragisan, also in Compostela Valley. Both killings were believed to have been carried out by Philippines soldiers and two others, Mr. Jezreel Arrabis and his wife Ms. Delia Arrabis, both members of the Farmers Association in Davao City on September 2, 2017.
In October 2018, armed men opened fire on a group of sugar cane farmers who were occupying part of the plantation in the city of Sagay, Negros Occidental killing nine, and then set three of the bodies on fire. Those who were killed were members of a farmer’s union, the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers; among them were three women and two minors.
The “Sagay 9” massacre was the eight massacres under the Duterte government, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines). This horrifying incident brought the number of farmer victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in the last two and a half years to 172, 109 of whom were victims of extrajudicial killings related to land struggles and conflicts. Thirty-three of the 109 were killed in 2018, making the Philippines the deadliest country in the world for people fighting for their right to land and resources.
Justice for Negros 14!
We stand with the farmers!
Bigas hindi bala!
Revd Fr. Herbert Fadriquela Jr.
Chairperson, Migrante Europe