Friday, December 10, 2010

Philippine farmers' group denounces killings of peasants

Thousands of people joined a rally in Davao City in Mindanao for the commemoration of International Human Rights Day. They also demanded justice for victims of extra-judicial killings and to stop militarization in the countryside. (Photos by Jonald Mahinay and Karlos Manlupig).

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 10, 2010) - A Filipino Farmer’s group called Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanaon has denounced the increasing human rights violations on peasants in the country.

It said at least 22 cases of extra-judicial killings gad been committed in just seven months of President Benigno Aquino's presidency. It said 14 of the 22 victims were farmers; three of whom were from Davao - Julius Tamondes, Reynaldo Labrador and Vicente Felicilda Jr.

“Blood of civilians, of activists longing for genuine democratic change continue to stain the hands of the government. We condemn that the policy of killing members and leaders of progressive peoples’ organizations and civilians which has continued under the Aquino regime. This is enough to prove that President Aquino's policies were patterned after the same atrocious policies of the Arroyo government,” said the group's chairman Pedro Arnado said.

Arnado said the militarization of farmers’ communities has worsened with the deployment of the more than 19 infantry battalions, excluding the elements of the police, militias, the so-called Barangay (village) Defense System and other paramilitary groups in the region.

“Only recently, aerial bombardments have ripped Maragusan town leading to the forcible displacement of farmers and lumads (indigenous peoples). Scores of other villages are heavily militarized, with military units living within civilian populations as if martial rule has been the ‘unwritten’ official policy of the Aquino regime,” he said.

Thousands of peasants and human rights advocate also marched in Davao to commemorate the International Human Rights Day. They denounced the unabated killings of innocent people, mostly political activists, in the country.

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