Militant agri- groups ask for a stop to attacks on farmers, barangay officials

Published November 11, 2019, 10:32 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Chito Chavez

Militant agricultural groups have asked state forces to stop the attacks on farmers and barangay officials in rural communities.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Tanggol Magsasaka both strongly condemned the spate of violent attacks targeting farmers and local community leaders in rural barangays.

After the raids and arrests in Bacolod and Manila last week, both groups claimed there has been no let-up in the attacks that were carried out based on Executive Order No. 70 and Memorandum Order No. 32.

“The government is persistently weaponizing the law through the successive issuance and serving of search warrants. The specific targets of recent arrests are barangay officials,” said Danilo Ramos of KMP.

Barangay officials now target of counterinsurgency campaign

On November 7, the KMP said the house of Barangay Chairman Rolando Pataca was raided in Brgy. Rizal, Batuan, Bohol allegedly by combined forces of the PNP and 47th IBPA for supposedly hiding firearms.

Ramos said the arresting team presented a questionable search warrant and rummaged through Pataca’s belongings but the search yielded nothing.

The said raid happened a week after Pataca accompanied his village constituents in searching for several individuals who were illegally arrested and held for nearly 24 hours, and forced to guide the operations of the battalion last October 26 to 27.

According to another militant group Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras or Pamanggas-Panay, on November 10, peasant leader Herman Allesa of the Federation of Iloilo Farmers Association (FIFA) was arrested in Maasin, Iloilo.

Allesa is a former barangay councilor and barangay captain of Brgy. Bolo in Maasin town.

Ramos said Allesa’s unjust arrest was carried out based on a search warrant from RTC Branch 31 of 6th Judicial Region issued by Judge Gemalyn Faunillo-Tarol for alleged violation of RA 10591.

According to Allesa’s family, elements of police and military, in plainclothes, served the warrant for allegedly possessing several firearms.

Ramos noted no firearms were found but initial reports showed that the raiding team recovered grenade, different holsters, and books.

“We condemn the PNP and AFP for planting pieces of evidence inside Allesa’s house. They have mastered it as what they did in the raid in the offices progressive groups in Negros and Manila,” according to Cris Chavez of PAMANGGAS-Panay who maintained that the explosive found in Allesa’s residence were planted.

Before his arrest, Allesa was allegedly subjected to surveillance and threats.

In Samar provinces, at least 10 barangay captains and officials were killed in Lope De Vega, Las Navas, Bobon, Matuigunao, Calbiga and Paranas towns.

Latest activist killings in Bicol, Laguna

According to Defend Bicol network, two members of the Masbate Peoples Organization (MAPO) were killed by the 2nd Provincial Police Mobile Battalion on November 1.

The victims were identified as Joan Versaga and Arnel Ortillano.

Versaga was a resident of Brgy. Libertad, Cawayan, she was gunned down while onboard a motorcycle.

Arnel Ortillano, a ‘habal-habal’ driver and barangay tanod of Brgy. Mahayahay, Placer, Masbate, was gunned down on November 2, 9AM.

The group said more reported incidents of killings took place last November 6 wherein five civilians were slain in San Antonio, Milagros, Masbate including the local village chairman.

On the evening of November 4, elderly activist and former political prisoner Reynaldo Malaborbor was killed outside his house in Laguna by an unidentified gunman.

Malaborbor, a coordinator of Makabayan, has served workers and peasants in Southern Tagalog.

In 2010, Maloborbor was among the three farmer-activists who were arrested by the military and police in Lumban, Laguna.