Peasant leader killed, another arrested

FILE PHOTO: Peasant leaders Danilo Ramos  (left) of UMA and Joseph Canlas of KMP (rightmost) join the indignation protest outside the Department of Interior and Local Government over the killing of four farmers in Nueva Ecija in 2016 (Contributed photo)
FILE PHOTO: Peasant leaders Danilo Ramos (left) of UMA and Joseph Canlas of KMP (rightmost) join the indignation protest outside the Department of Interior and Local Government over the killing of four farmers in Nueva Ecija in 2016 (Contributed photo)

By BULATLAT

MANILA – A peasant group condemned the latest attack on their sector this week, with the killing of a farmer leader in Southern Mindanao and the arrest of another in Central Luzon.

Pedro Pandagay, 48, was shot dead early morning of March 23 by suspected state agents inside his home in Anitapan village, Mabini, Compostela Valley province. Pandagay was a board of director of the Golden Valley Banana Planters Association, and among those who led peasant struggles against mining companies and agribusiness corporations.

On March 22, peasant organizer Rommel Tucay, 38, was abducted by soldiers of the 56th Infantry Battalion, police and intelligence operatives in his house in Sitio (subvillage) Compra, General Luna village, Carranglan in Nueva Ecija province. Tucay is an organizer of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon-Nueva Ecija (AMGL-NE), a local chapter of KMP.

KMP said armed men who presented themselves as soldiers took Tucay from his home and forced him into a vehicle where he was blindfolded, mauled, and subjected to physical and psychological torture for several hours. The abductors then brought him to the Provincial Public Safety Compound of the Philippine National Police provincial headquarters in Cabanatuan City.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) lambasted the attacks, which came a week before the next round of peace talks between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“These incidents of human rights violations continue as part of the government’s all-out war against the people,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.

Flores said Pandagay is the 12th victim of political killing in Southern Mindanao Region, and the seventh in Compostela Valley under President Duterte. He was also a leader in the peasant struggle to reclaim lands controlled by banana plantations.

Flores said Pandagay was was often summoned by soldiers of the 46thinfantry battalion and was among those resisting the planned entry of Australia-based One Asia Resources that will explore gold ores covering 7,000 hectares in Mabini town.

Next week, on March 31, Flores said KMP and other peasant advocates will launch #StopKillingFarmers, a nationwide campaign to highlight the escalating cases of peasant killings. There will be Black Friday mass actions and protest caravans in Negros Occidental province, Metro Manila and North Mindanao.

“We will demand justice for all victims of political killings and the government’s Oplan Kapayapaan Development Support Internal Security Plan that targets civilians,” he said.

KMP also called on government and the military to declare a unilateral ceasefire and to pull out of peasant communities in time for the peace talks next week.()

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