KMP alarmed over rising extra-judicial killings under Duterte

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) strongly condemned the extra-judicial killing of its provincial leader in Isabela province.

At around 8 o’clock in the morning today, Ariel Diaz, chairperson of the Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon (DAGAMI), a local chapter of KMP in the province of Isabela, was gunned down by three unidentified armed men in his farmlot in Villa Pereda, Delfin Albano town, according to initial reports from the Sentro Para sa Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) – Isabela.

Diaz is also the leader of the Inter-municipal Peasant Alliance Against Foreign Landgrabbing in Isabela and the coordinator of the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura in the province. He leads the local farmers struggle against landgrabbing in Isabela.

“It appears that there is a rising trend of extrajudicial killings against farmers under the Duterte administration. In the last five days alone, five farmers were killed,” says Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.

Nakaburol pa nga ang mga magsasakang minasaker sa Fort Magsaysay noong Sabado, may magsasaka na namang binaril at pinatay sa Isabela,”Flores added referring to the massacre of four farmers in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija last September 3.

The KMP expressed strong doubts that the escalating killings of farmers are directly related to agrarian disputes confronted by the farmers.

“Both the killings in Isabela and Nueva Ecija are linked to agrarian disputes with the perpetrators believed to be either hired goons or state security forces that serve as private armies of land-grabbers,” says Flores.

“We call on the Duterte government to put a stop to these politically-motivated killings. It is highly-condemnable that farmers who defend their right to the lands are being killed,” the peasant leader said.

Isabela is one of the hotbeds of agrarian unrest in the country as land monopoly, land-grabbing, and land conversion is rampant in the province. The local KMP in Isabela have already dispatched a Quick Reaction Team to further gather information on the incident.

In 2011, the joint venture of Green Future Innovations Inc. (GFII) and Ecofuel Development Corp. bio-ethanol plant entered into sugarcane-growing contracts with farmers covering 11,000 hectares of land. In 2012, it began operations in San Mariano, Isabela for the production of 700,000 tons of sugarcane feedstock.

An international fact-finding led by KMP that same year probed the massive landgrabbing of rice and corn lands in Isabela by Philippine, Japanese and Taiwanese companies under the GFII, Ecofuel Development Corp., Itochu Corp., JGC Corp., Philippine Bioethanol and Energy Investments Corp. and GCO Taiwan Holding Company.

At the height of the farmers’ campaign against foreign landgrabbing, peasant-activist and DAGAMI active member Bonifacio Labasan, was gunned down by riding-in-tandem in San Mateo, Isabela on March 23, 2011.

The said bioethanol joint-venture supported by the local government resulted to foreclosures of land and cancellations of certificates of land ownership awards distributed to farmer-beneficiaries under the government’s defunct Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).###