STATEMENT | 8 July 2018 | Reference: Roy Anunciacion – firstname.lastname@example.org
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) demands to stop the worsening state-perpetrated attacks to peasants and people’s rights activists in the Philippines especially in Mindanao where Martial Law is being implemented.
Human rights and peasant groups in Mindanao recorded 19 cases of illegal arrest and detention in just two days during the first week of July. On July 3, 2018, military arrested six women farm workers in Brgy. New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon who are members of the Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa, an affiliate organization of Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA; Union of Agricultural Workers). The next day, police nabbed 13 development workers and human rights defenders without warrant at a seminary in General Santos City, Southern Mindanao while in consultation with the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, an independent Christian denomination in the Philippines, on peasant and IP issues. Among them is Irineo Udarbe, chairperson of the Northern Mindanao Region chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas), a member organization of PCFS. Eleven out of the “Gensan 13,” comprised of peasant leaders, church workers, and officers of sectoral organizations including indigenous peoples and students, were released July 6 evening after posting bail.
Both groups were implicated with absurd trumped-up charges and were also linked with the belligerent Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
We strongly condemn these incidents and the worsening attacks against people’s rights activists in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao where Martial Law is in effect. The narrative has been the same: development workers and human rights defenders, who happen to be President Rodrigo Duterte’s vocal critics, are falsely charged of baseless allegations on their involvement with communist belligerents to create a chilling effect for public dissent. They are the targets of the state counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Kapayapaan (Peace) and Martial Law, which is likely to be carried out nationwide. As a result, promoting the causes of the poor and marginalized in the Philippines – including food sovereignty – has become a crime.
Meanwhile, the Duterte administration has failed to address the long-standing issues of poverty and oppression reigning in the country. Landlessness and unemployment are pervasive, and their casualties are being jailed or killed instead – either as tambays (loiterers) or as suspected drug personalities. It has bowed out the June peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which would have been a pristine opportunity to tackle these enduring problems, due to the claim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that the CPP-NPA are plotting his ouster by October. Duterte’s priorities reveal his intent to establish his tyranny with the support of his US-backed military cohorts, serving corporate interests in the long run.
The trend actually the same as in other countries like India. Activist leaders are being jailed for opposing the Maharashtra state, who in turn claim them to be linked with communist Naxalites. Just last month, five leader activists who organized the Bhima Koregaon event in Pune were arrested and jailed for inciting the violence in January. They were accused of plotting the assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. States are exploiting the “terrorist” tagging of insurgent and belligerent groups as well as of progressive legal formations to justify their abuse of authority.
PCFS denounces such schemes of state terrorism that only aims to stifle democracy, in order to facilitate the entry of development aggression projects that seize and destroy the people’s lands and resources. We challenge these states to uphold the laws of the land, respect the rights of the people, and fulfill the mandate of serving their people’s welfare. Particularly, we urge the Duterte administration to stop the attacks against development workers and human rights defenders especially in Mindanao and lift the Martial Law.
The Coalition calls its members, networks, and food sovereignty advocates all over the world to again express our solidarity to the Filipino people. Let us demand the immediate and unconditional release and dropping of charges of the six women agricultural workers of Bukidnon, the GenSan 13, and all peasants and people’s rights defenders who have become political prisoners in the country. ###