PRESS STATEMENT: Hunger and Persecution of Farmers in Northern Mindanao during Peasant Month

October 18, 2018
Press Statement

Hunger and Persecution of Farmers in Northern Mindanao during Peasant Month

October is considered the peasant month. However, instead of celebrating the bounty and fruits of their labor, peasants all over the country, and particularly in the region, are suffering from hunger and political persecution.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas is a nationwide organization of peasants that asserts the right to land and fights for genuine agrarian reform. It is composed of farmers, agricultural workers, fisher folk and other sectors of society that depend on agricultural land for a living.

The attacks against peasants have intensified in the past weeks – both direct, in the form of illegal arrests, extra judicial killings, and similar human rights violations, and indirect, in the form of financial difficulties. The economic conditions of the country have worsened and it is felt heavily in our region, which had been considered the food basket of Mindanao, and thus home to several peasant communities.

There had been a P27 wage increase for the region, raising the minimum wage of agricultural workers from P304 to P331 (Category IV areas). But it is only piecemeal compared to the increase of basic goods and services due to the fast rising inflation rates. Many farming families ironically miss a meal
everyday despite being the ones feeding the nation.

The effects of the implementation of the TRAIN law have affected almost everyone.

No concrete plans for genuine agrarian reform is in place, leaving our farmers helpless against the continuing expansion of multi-national plantations and other development aggression projects of corporations and the government itself. Instead of solving the longstanding land problem, the response of our government has been death and political persecution.

KMP-NMR stands that Martial Law was declared in the island of Mindanao to pave way for the profit of landlords and corporations. This only resulted to massive human rights violations towards our farmers and the other sectors of society who have only been demanding for their basic democratic rights.

Numerous cases of extra-judicial killings, harassment, trumped-up charges, illegal arrests and forced/fake surrender have been recorded and documented in the region and the rest of Mindanao.

On July 4, 2018, activists and community workers were illegally arrested in General Santos City and charged with a dubious case. This included the regional chairperson of KMP-NMR, Ireneo Udarbe.

Then on October 04, 2018, Jerry Basahon the provincial chairperson of Misamis Oriental Farmers Association and Merlita Durado the provincialCoordinator of GABRIELA in Misamis oriental, was illegally arrested and charged with a case of frustrated and attempted murder. Included in this trumped up charge are different peasant leaders of Misamis Oriental. Again, KMP-NMR Chairperson Ireneo Udarbe was included in the said case.

Militarization of peasant communities in the region also heightened during Martial Law. The Buffalo-Tamarraw-Limus (BTL) community in Maramag, Bukidnon is a concrete example. Troops from the 88th IB have set up detachments in and near their community. The troops have subjected them to harassment, and surveillance and have been forcing the community to surrender as rebels or terrorists. BTL farmers
had only been asserting their right to till in order to feed and cloth their families.

The experience of the farmers in Laguindingan is the same. They were forced off their lands by the giant corporation of the Ayalas. Military and armed personnel of the state have constantly monitored their community whose only dream is to go back to the land that have been sustaining them.

Under Duterte’s Martial Law, as off August 2018 there are five (5) victims of extra-judicial killings, five (5) victims of frustrated extra-judicial killings, seventy eight (78) victims of trumped-up charges, 720 fake and forced surrender, 89 illegal arrest and detention and 465 victims of threat harassment and intimidation.

Despite the continuing and intensified attacks, the peasants and the rest of the Filipino nation will not cower. As the economic crisis continues, more people will rise and fight this tyrannical rule and overthrow this dictator government. Makigbisog di Mahadlok!

Michael Pineda
KMP Council Member

Source: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Northern Mindanao Region

Date: October 18, 2018