By Chito Chavez
Various farmers’ groups, Church leaders and indigenous people (IP) organizations have set August 20 as the national day against senseless killings in the country.
The groups including the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) have condemned the government for the murders of more than 200 farmers and IP members.
In response to the alleged slaughter, KMP and other groups have declared August 20 as the national day of mourning for the thousands of people killed under the Duterte regime.
“We demand a stop to these killings and attacks against the people. We mourn the deaths of the victims. We demand swift justice and accountability for their heinous deaths. We enjoin all sectors to join the broad activities on August 20,” KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
Farmers and sectoral groups in Southern Tagalog will start their activities in Laguna on August 19 and hold pickets at Camp Crame, Camp Aguinaldo and the main office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Quezon City.
The following day, they will join the protests in Mendiola.
In Bicol, protests will take place in Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon and Masbate.
Protesters will also march in Albay against the formation of the Joint Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines Task Force (Joint PNP-AFP Task Force.)
A concelebrated mass at the Sta. Cruz Church in Manila will be led by Bishop Deogracias Yniguez to pray for the victims and their families.
Leaders and members of various congregations and the faithful under the banner of the religious group One Voice, Ramos said.
On the same day, KMP and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will lead a protest in Mendiola to condemn the state policies that authorized these state-sponsored attacks, including Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70), Memorandum Order No. 32 (MO 32) and Oplan Kapanatagan, which are essentially policies that guarantee the implementation of de facto martial law.
Students from the University of the Philippines will lead a protest walk-out to join the activities in Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio.
The protesters said Negros Island is drenched in blood with the non-stop killings, with human rights watchdog Karapatan and KMP documenting the deaths of 87 farmers and land reform advocates in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
Bicol and Samar regions are under similar circumstances of intense militarization and the resulting human rights violations have severely affected the landscape and political climate in rural communities, with people living in fear, their livelihood affected by MO 32.
“Hundreds of farmers and activists have been killed. They are not just numbers or documentation. They are people whose lives were taken away with impunity. There is no justification for their killings and we are seeking for justice,” Ramos said.
There is also de facto martial law in Luzon as documented human rights violations against farmers have piled up in Abra, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Mindoro Occidental, Quezon, Batangas, and Rizal.
“Farmers who feed the nation are being killed and subjected to state-sponsored abuses,” Ramos added.
Farmers and their families in the countryside endure the worst human rights violations due to state-sponsored attacks.
“Those who demand genuine social change and assert their rights are branded as ‘terrorists’ and are being vilified as ‘enemies of the state.’ Worse, people’s organizations are being declared as persona non gratae in many localities. Progressive individuals and activists are the most vulnerable targets of state killings and attacks,” Ramos reported.
The KMP leader said Malacanang’s EO 70 or the whole-of-nation approach against insurgency continues to target civilians and progressive organizations.
Ramos added the joint forces of PNP-AFP and DILG are engaged in a head-on battle against the people through Oplan Sauron/SEMPO and anti-drugs operations.
Oplan Kapanatagan is being carried out in urban centers and joint military and police task forces have been activated to wage a war against the Filipino people, with the so-called Duterte Death Squads (DDS) emboldened to assassinate anyone they believe is critical of their President.
The government is also proposing a host of Marcosian measures — the revival of the Anti-Subversion Law, amendments to the Human Security Act, mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), heightened police presence in universities and campuses while the witch-hunt persists targeting anyone they fancy.
“We demand a stop to these killings and attacks against the people. We mourn the deaths of the victims. We demand swift justice and accountability for their heinous deaths. We enjoin all sectors to join the broad activities on August 20,” Ramos concluded.