The following is a draft statement regarding the merciless murder of Ka Eric Cabanit. It is being processed and might end up totally rewritten. I’ll post the final draft and just archive this one.
AGRARIAN VIOLENCE MUST STOP NOW!
To date, Enrico Cabanit, son of Mindanao, is the latest peasant that sacrificed his life under the merciless hands of his assassins. He was killed last April 24 right at the food market which his family rarely went to for lack of sufficient income.
Ka Eric was formerly employed in a banana plantation owned by the family of Davao del Norte banana magnate Antonio Floirendo, whose retrenching him a decade ago along with fellow plantation workers was believed to be politically motivated, what with their active advocacy to place all landholdings of the Floirendos under agrarian reform.We are angered by the fact that denying Ka Eric the right to work was not enough. To the minds of his assassins and murder mandators, his right to life must end for he had not stopped his advocacy for authentic agrarian reform.
They killed a person who was an active member of the government-created agency, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). They killed a person, who, aside from having been in the Board of various civil society organizations, was member of the Presidium of the Citizens Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA), which received and processed evidences of graft and corruption against government officials including the nation’s top official. Ka Eric led civil society legal and political actions against officials committing graft and corruption, including misuse of the ill-gotten Marcos wealth.
From our records, at least 17 farmers have been murdered since 2001. Countless others, together with their spouses and children, were fortunate enough to escape the deadly weapons by the State forces and people believed to be hired by landlords and warlords.
It is clear that our peasant heroes were killed because of their active involvement in social movements fighting for the peasants’ internationally-respected and Constitutionally-enshrined rights. They were killed because they made the lives of local authoritarian elites a little harder, most of whom manage to pull strings with the national center of power.
The murder of Ka Eric (Mindanao), Ka Rico Adeva and Ka Porfirio Maglasang (Negros Occidental), Vicente Denila (Negros Oriental), Hernan Baria (Iloilo), Ka Felizardo Benitez (Quezon), and others just in the recent few years is another dark page in the history of the peasants’ difficult struggle for land, justice and dignity.
Agrarian violence must stop now. The peasants are not enemies. They are supposed to be protagonists and primary actors for agrarian reform and rural development.
The efforts to end agrarian violence must be punctuated by an honest, sincere and transparent implementation of a real agrarian reform, rural development and rural democratization.
Justice for Ka Eric and all fellow peasants killed!
Implement a genuine agrarian reform and rural development now!