Human rights group alarmed over attacks on peasant workers

Published January 28, 2021, 2:46 PM

by Raymund Antonio

A human rights group said Thursday it is alarmed by the continuous attacks on peasant workers in Hacienda Yulo in Laguna and Isabela.

Karapatan made the statement following the reported threats, harassment, and arrests being experienced by farmers in these areas.

“Like the majority of the populace, what they need most now is assistance, support, and ultimately, the right to land and life. However, there has been no letup from life-threatening attacks they experience, whether from State forces or armed security and goons of local landlords,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay was referring to the accounts posted by Defend Yulo Farmers on Facebook which said that attacks by armed men against Hacienda Yulo farmers in Sitio Buntog in Barangay Canlubang have escalated.

On Jan. 23, gunmen burned the houses of farmers Freddie Cacao and Mario Mangubat after the demolition of other farmers’ houses. These were the last structures inside a fenced section of the land which would be developed into residential housing.

Three days later, they returned and reportedly beat up six farmers who were also threatened to be killed if they continue to resist land conversion schemes.

The farmers were identifed as Pedro Mangubat, Hermie de Leon, Chris Laurel, William Caranay, Florencio Masongsong, and JM, a minor.

“We condemn the use of force and violence against the Yulo farmers, and we support the call for intervention and support of the local government in putting a stop to these attacks,” Palabay said.

Karapatan also denounced the arrest of three peasants in Cauayan, Isabela on Jan. 23 for supposedly having firearms and grenades in their homes, in what it claimed another alleged case of “tanim-baril” and “tanim granada.”

According to the group’s chapter in Cagayan Valley, police forced out the household of farmers from their houses during the simultaneous search in Barangay Villaflor, leading to the discovery of guns and grenades.

Those arrested were farmers Jerry Ramos, Herminio Ramos, and Virgillio dela Cruz.

“The Duterte administration is aggravating the situation of peasants, when these attacks on their lives and security continue unabated,” Palabay said.

“We call for an end to these attacks and to all forms of political repression in the Philippines.”