June 6, 2012
A press release from KASAMA TK’s Facebook.
Militant peasant federation Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) slams Palace declaration that a full land reform will be implemented as Aquino steps down in power in 2016 through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).
“That’s next to impossible!” according to Axel Pinpin, secretary general of Kasama-TK, adding that “the Aquino-Cojuangco family shows no clear signs of sincerity to distribute the Luisita estate among tenants and farm workers.”
The group expresses doubt on Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s optimism on the eyed success of 24-year old land reform program and raises concern that landlessness might grow even worse because of the fast growing difference between the rate of land use conversion and re-concentration and with the current DAR administration’s rate of acquisition and distribution of “CARPable” land in the region.
“This pronouncement is a mere showoff to accommodate pseudo-farmer organization’s media mileage to further lure peasant masses into reformism and provide opportunity for the landlord government to pose as champion of democratic reforms by playing this all too predictable skit where farmers air grievance, Malacanang opens door, government promises, farmers go straight home, hence “problem” is solved without changing a bit in the current social order,” Pinpin illustrates.
Pinpin stressed further that “this statement clearly sends the message that landowners’ interest would remain unscathed under the Aquino Administration, an assurance that no land will be distributed until or even after 2016 as long as CARP remains the framework of reform and the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill is not passed into law.”
“But for the militant peasant organizations, it has been quite clear that we cannot count on CARPER but only on our collective strength to boldly initiate genuine land reform through organized occupation of disputed vast estates for the benefit of poor peasants and farm workers and this form of struggle is slowly becoming the main trend in rural communities as the peasant masses have completely rejected the moribund land reform program despite continuous harassment by private armies and state security forces,” according to Orly Marcellana, convenor of Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement.
“CARP has had 24 years and billions of funds to bring about real changes for the peasant masses. It distributed only about 10% of all CARPable land these past two years of its extension, now it dreams to distribute the remaining 90% in two years? Bogus CARP is the longest running land reform in the world and is bound to fail over and over again,” the group declares in a statement.
Hoping for land reform beyond 2014 is just too much for farmers fighting for this cause for the past 24 years and as much as we are sure of the possibility that CARPER won’t be able to deliver its promises, Aquino might also find it possible to see his term end earlier than expected,” Pinpin ended.#
a press release from Kasama TK’s facebook.
A militant farmers’ group in Southern Tagalog reported another peasant leader who was illegally arrested and detained in Quezon province yesterday.
Franklin Barrera, an 18-year old farmer from Brgy. San Vicente, Gumaca, Quezon was the latest victim of human rights violations in the region.
Suspected elements of the military hit him from behind and forced him inside a red van in Yumul St., Brgy. Gomez, Lopez, Quezon. He became unconscious and found himself in a house in Brgy. San Isidro, Lopez, Quezon, near the 85th IBPA detachment.
He escaped through the backdoor and was confined in a hospital in Atimonan, Quezon.
Barrera is a convenor of the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement, an alliance organized to stop the human rights violations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Bondoc Peninsula.
“The Aquino government obviously wants to preempt the people’s alliance campaign that will expose the real characteristic of its “people centered” counter-insurgency program dubbed as Oplan Bayanihan,” said Axel Pinpin, secretary general of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and a former political detainee.
The group mentioned that yesterday’s incident is only one among the many cases of human rights violations in the province since the AFP deployed 8 battalions of military in the area.
“Aquino’s policies like Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and Oplan Bayanihan deprived us of a normal and peaceful life. We live in fear as we experience illegal arrests and search, torture, and other forms of harassment everyday,” says Orly Macellana, spokesperson of the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement.
“The abduction of Barrera sealed the grim future of the agrarian reform under the rule of the country’s top haciendero, Noynoy Aquino,” Pinpin added.
The group lambasted President Benigno Simeon Aquino III instruction to DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, “that CARP should be completed within the time allotted to us because it will be very difficult to get further extension.”
“Aquino’s statement is a mockery of farmers’ long aspiration for land, a mere lip service,” Pinpin reacted
The group called for the junking of CARP two days before its 24th year of implementation.
According to Kasama-TK, CARP, which is to expire in 2014, failed to distribute the land to the farmers because “it was designed to serve the interest of the big hacienderos in the country.”
“CARP even legitimized fascism in order to protect the big landlord’s properties from acquisition and distribution,” Pinpin added.
Military and paramilitary groups escalated their operations in Bondoc Peninsula and South Quezon, which they believe to be consolidated areas of the New People’s Army, after Aquino announced that he would end communist insurgency by 2012.
Kasama-TK also likened Aquino to an absentee landlord who just waits for harvest season and receives share without even visiting his land or meeting his serf.
As the farmers hold their protest at the Aquino residence in Times Street, President Aquino is on a trip to Europe and the United States.
“We’re fed-up of Aquino’s rhetoric,” says Pinpin when asked if they are demanding an audience from the President to hear their grievances, adding, “Why not just immediately distribute his hacienda?”
Another group of farmers supporting CARP that marches all the way from Mindanao, is set for a dialogue with Malacañang officials today after President Aquino directed administration officials to meet with the farmers.
But Pinpin’s group counters that “A dialogue with Aquino will only give opportunity for the Haciendero Republic to pose as champion of democratic reforms by playing this all too predictable skit where farmers air grievance, Malacañang opens door, government promises, farmers go straight home, hence “problem” is solved without changing a bit in the current social order.”
“We could not take that Aquino is enjoying his trip abroad and having fun while farmers are suffering in the hands of the military. Hindi namin maisip kung paano pa siya nakakatulog nang mahimbing habang puno ng ligalig ang buhay ng mga magsasaka,” Marcellana said. #
With full faith in the electorate of UP Los Banos, the Office of the Student Regent will recognize Ynik Ante the chairperson of their University Student Council. Ms Ante won the elections held 22-24 February 2012 by 36 votes.
The disqualification case against Ms Ante, who had unpaid tuition until the time of the election, should no longer be entertained by the College Electoral Board (CEB) of UP Los Banos for both technical and substantial grounds. Per records of the University Registrar, Ms Ante was enrolled last semester.
Late payment of tuition should not be used to undermine the position of any student committed to be involved so fully in UP’s academic and extra-curricular offerings. Such circumstance is one many UP students have found themselves in, with UP tuition’s rise to almost five times the minimum wage.
No law or precedent will correctly stand to the position to consider the election as if Ms Ante’s name had not been present on the ballot. Nullifying votes already cast for her nullifies the vote entirely. Thus, the proposal of the CEB to declare the runner up as chairperson is baseless.
For guidance in future elections, the OSR stands that the mere pendency of a disqualification case against a candidate who had been allowed into a ballot does not justify the suspension of proclamation after winning in the election. To hold otherwise would unduly encourage the filing of baseless and malicious petitions for disqualification if only to effect the suspension of the proclamation of the winning candidate. In the end, this defeats the sovereign will of the electorate and unduly benefits undeserving third parties.
We call on the CEB of UP Los Banos – all college secretaries and student council chairpersons – to uphold the UP tradition of open-mindedness and democracy, and to proclaim Ms Ante as chairperson of the UPLB USC as soon as possible.
Hopefully, this serves as a fitting challenge to Ms Ante, the students’ choice, along with the duly-elected USC, to pay off lost time and to release the distress and disappointment, with magnified commitment to serve their constituency.
All the best, for a better UP.
Outgoing Student Regent
Incoming Student Regent
1 June 2012
14 May 2012
The human rights group KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog, along with the victims’ families and other sectoral organizations in the region, condemn in the strongest possible terms the unprecedented deployment of military in the province of Quezon, which has resulted to escalating human rights violations in the area. To date, at least 8 battalions of the Philippine Army have been operating in the Southern part of Quezon alone.
Units deployed in the area include Philippine Army’s 85th, 76th, 74th, 59th Infantry Battalions, 1st Special Forces of the Philippine Army, 201st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, CAFGU and 416th Provincial Police Mobile Group. While past administrations have also employed militarization in their counterinsurgency programs, the recent deployment in South Quezon is but alarming considering the concentrated number of military relative to the area it operates.
Quezon, specifically South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula, can be considered as center of agricultural production where products such as coconut, corn, and grains abound. Minerals such as gold and petroleum also flourish in these areas. Development programs of both the government and private companies which include Bio-diesel in Gumaca, Mirant Powerplant Extension in Atimonan, and dam construction in Macalelon are also concentrated in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula. Touted as ‘Hacienda belt’, Bondoc Peninsula, meanwhile, has thousands of farm lands owned by the families Murray, Soleta, Estrada-Quizon, Tan, Reyes and Matias.
With these potential coupled with the agricultural blissfulness of the province, and the growing resistance of the locals particularly of the farmers, it is no wonder why the government has deployed that much number of military and police to South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula.
A case of abduction in Macalelon town in March 27, 2011 was already reported to Karapatan. Unidentified armed men allegedly took farmer Felix Balaston to the 85th Infantry Battalion’s camp. He remains missing to date.
Just recently, last March 22, 2012, some drunk members of the 74th Infantry Battalion were reported to have manhandled some youth in San Andres town namely Rey Rodrigo (16 y/o), Reynaldo Delos Santos(18y/o) and Elmer Desuyo(21 y/o).
Other cases of threat, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrest and detention perpetrated against local farmers are also being verified by KARAPATAN-ST.
Army forces are currently stationed in houses and barangay (village) centers. Detachments are mounted in about 50 barangays in the rural areas of South Quezon. Several local farmers’ groups in South Quezon consistent in their struggle for genuine land reform against big landlords and businesses are now targeted by the military in their operations.
We call on the Aquino administration to immediately pull out the military and police troops deployed in South Quezon. While the government proudly banners its counter insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan in the name of ‘peace and development’ and continues to echo its mantra for the ‘respect for human rights’, farmers, workers, and other members of the basic sectors fighting for their democratic rights experience the most inhumane treatment from state forces.
We decry the brutality and manhandling of the military and police forces to the people of Quezon. It is unacceptable how those who have sworn to protect the interests of and defend the people are now the ones causing terror and sowing fear to them. The militarization in Quezon is not an isolated case. Elsewhere in the country, suppression of democratic and civil rights is blatant and prevalent. During the time of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, there were about 180 reported cases of extra judicial killings (EJKs), 32 enforced disappearances, and other atrocities in the Southern Tagalog region alone. The human rights situation has even exacerbated when President Aquino assumed position, with 16 cases of EJKs and 3 disappeared in the region. Not to mention the continuing crackdown and filing of trumped up charges against political activists.
If President Aquino is serious in bringing justice and long-lasting peace in the country, then we challenge him to investigate the human rights cases and put an end to these human rights abuses by denouncing its Oplan Bayanihan. He can never silence the growing unrest of the people. As his regime continuously deny the people of their basic rights and liberty, the oppressed people are left with no other choice but to stand up and fight.
We rally all peace loving citizens to unite in condemning this injustice and abuse done to our fellow men. We also call on everyone to support the anti-militarization and anti-fascist campaign in the region.
This is just the start. We vow to continue the struggle until all forms of human rights violations is stopped and justice is served to all victims.
EXPOSE AND OPPOSE OPLAN BAYANIHAN!
JUSTICE TO ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
MILITARY TROOPS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, OUT NOW!
15 May 2012
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Human Rights Office (AFPHRO), in a news article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer that came out last May 14, is boasting that the AFP has a clean human rights slate from January to April this year and all other human rights violations cases filed at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from July 2010 are mere accusations.
The AFP should stop spreading its lies.
An estimated eight battalions of the Army, police and CAFGU are currently stationed in 22 towns in the southern part of Quezon. Such a concentration of forces in rural communities translates to an escalation of human rights violations.
In a press conference we have organized last Monday, farmers from Quezon shared stories of military abuse.
Among them was Christopher Prieto, a farmer from Mulanay, Quezon. Last May 9, at around 1:00 A.M., several armed men in combat boots came to his house accusing him of hiding a gun. When his wife asked the unwanted visitors who they were, they only answered “Why do you need to know who we are?”
Prieto said some of his neighbors were brought to a military camp last January, interrogated and accused of being New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. One was even beaten up.
In Catanuan, Quezon, military men disrupted 17-year-old Manilyn Caribot’s funeral, who died in a crossfire between the 85th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and the NPA last April 29.
Her aunt, Genelyn Dichoso, was offered Php 150,000 by two army men (one introduced himself as a lieutenant from the 76th IBPA) for her to refrain from filing a case against the military. She declined.
On Caribot’s funeral last May 5, two 6×6 army trucks filled with soldiers in full battle gear stood waiting at the cemetery entrance. The soldiers surrounded the grave where Manilyn was set to be buried. While all this was happening, soldiers reportedly ransacked Dichoso’s house, as well as five others,.and allegedly pointed their guns at children who were left at home.
Felix Balaston, a farmer from Macalelon, Quezon, was seen by witnesses being brought to the 85th IBPA camp on March 27, 2011. His wife, Mirasol, is still searching for him up to now.
Many other cases of threat, intimidation, harassment, manhandling have also been reported to Karapatan by local farmers.
Certainly, the AFP will dismiss these cases again as mere accusations.
Let us not forget that during the Arroyo administration, more than a thousand fell victim to extrajudicial killings and hundreds to enforced disappearance, yet no one was ever convicted. That does not mean that the victims were simply spreading accusations.
Human rights violations continue under the current Aquino administration’s Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” or “Oplan Bayanihan.” Like its predecessor Oplan Bantay Laya, Oplan Bayanihan is a counterinsurgency program devised to quell any form of dissent, armed or unarmed, by any means necessary. It blurs the distinction between what is legal and illegal. Ultimately, innocent civilians become prime victims.
There is a great need to defend human rights, especially when the violators will do anything in their power to mislead the public. There is a great need for all who know in their hearts the importance of human rights to unite and take a stand against injustice.
Stop human rights violations now.