Int’l peasant group demands justice for slain sugar worker leader in PH

July 2, 2018

PRESS RELEASE | 2 July 2018 | Reference: Roy Anunciacion – secretariat@foodsov.org

 

People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), a global network of food sovereignty advocates and various grassroots groups of small food producers, denounce the recent murder of Filipino sugar worker Julius Broce Barellano.

Barellano is a radioman and the chairperson of Hacienda Medina Farm Workers Association, the local chapter of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in the Philippines. According to news reports, he was shot in the chest by two unidentified gunmen riding a motorcycle in front of his residence at Sitio Medina, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Wednesday morning, June 27, 2018. Barellano was rushed to the hospital but eventually passed away. The “riding-in-tandem” – a term in the Philippines referring to criminals on motorcycles – remains at large to date.

“We condemn the killings of our farmers in the Philippines. The [Philippine president] Duterte administration’s war against the poor continues to attack our member organizations, Filipino peasants, and advocates of food sovereignty,” said Roy Anunciacion, PCFS global secretariat coordinator, in reaction to the murder.

Local farmers reported that businessman Wellington Uy thrice have attempted to eject them from the disputed 140-hectare Hacienda Medina, but the local courts ruled to their favor.

”The farmers group of Hacienda Medina have been fighting for their right to the land. Maneuvers by Uy have endangered their families and their livelihood,” said NFSW. “Land related killings have been escalating in the province. Berallano is the third NFSW member slain and the 27th victim of political killing in Negros,” the federation added.

As per the statement of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA; Union of Agricultural Workers), Hacienda Medina is among the 100 haciendas in the Negros province covered by land cultivation of farmworkers and farmers since 2006 to reclaim the land versus landlordism and the hacienda system. The military alleges these areas as communal farms of the belligerent armed group New People’s Army (NPA) and have accused the peasant leaders to be its members or sympathizers. Earlier this year, the government of the Philippines have declared NPA as a terrorist organization through a presidential proclamation.

“We call on all our organizations and networks to condemn these killings of farmers and land reform advocates and stand with the farmers in their struggle for genuine agrarian reform and social justice. Justice for Julius Barcellano!” Anunciacion said.

NSFW is a member of the Asian Peasant Coalition, an affiliate organization of the PCFS. ###