My organization was able to see print (on Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb 16 issue, page 10) a paid-ad statement on the Philippine agrarian violence and killing of farmers. It was a success also because we were able to convince church leaders, personalities, and the human rights community to sign in to the statement.
Excerpts from the statement:
Madam President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo:
From 2001 when you assumed power to 2006, 38 farmer-leaders were slain in cold blood. Two more were killed since — TFMâ€™s Pepito Santillan in Negros Occidental on January 25 and UNORKA’s Joseph Matunding in Iloilo on January 30. KMBP’s Heliolito Abrenica could have been the third had he not survived the bolo-hacking by a goon identified with a big landowner in San Francisco, Quezon. He, however, lost his left hand.
More limbs and lives are likely to be sacrificed unless you act quickly and resolutely. Records of PARRDS indicate that there are 2,342 leaders and organizers whose lives are threatened by goons and security guards of big landowners and plantations as well as others in their service, including policemen, barangay tanods, and members of so-called revolutionary forces.
The farmers have experienced five years of murders, frustrated murders, arson, physical assaults, grave threats, forced evacuations, harassment cases, destruction of properties, and strafing of houses, especially in agrarian reform hotspots like Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Iloilo, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Sarangani, Mindoro Occidental, Batangas, Quezon, and Masbate.
The signatories asked the President to:
- Make public the report of the Melo Commission, especially the results of its investigation of agrarian reform-related killings and violence;
- Prosecute all perpetrators of agrarian-related human rights violations, whether they be private sector goons, police forces, or agents of so-called revolutionary groups; and,
- Implement agrarian reform speedily and fairly especially in contentious landholdings, taking into consideration the rights of the legitimate farmers.
Let’s hope that President Arroyo listens. Although, the writer himself doubts that will happen.
For the complete text, you may download it here -> An Appeal to President Arroyo on Agrarian Violence