Families of peasant political prisoners flood justice sec office, call for their immediate freedom 10/13/2010
Child of Peasant Political Prisoner Felicidad Caparal and
enactment of continuing human rights violations in the country
Families of peasant political prisoners who are members of regional and local chapters of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and network peasant organizations flooded the office of Dept. of Justice Sec. Leila De Lima at Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila. They are primarily calling for the immediate freedom of their family members who they claim were wrongfully accused and their charges as part of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.
“We came here to Sec. De Lima’s office to have a dialogue and we are appealing to her to work for the immediate release of our colleagues. The charges against them were total fabrication and part of the Oplan Bantay Laya, thus, they should be freed,” Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) Co-Convenor.
The groups are calling for the freedom of Dario Tomada, a former peasant leader of SAGUPA – SB (KMP Eastern Visayas), Felicidad Caparal, an organizer of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Darwin Liwag, Vice-Chair of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA – TK, KMP Southern Tagalog) and 2 of his colleagues. They are also calling for the freedom of peasant political prisoners such as Eddie Cruz, a member of KASAMA – Rizal, Antipolo 4 (Rizal), Talisay 3 (Batangas), Cadiz 4 and Guihulngan 2 (Negros). KMP and KASAMA – TK have submitted a compilation of fact sheets of human rights abuses against peasants to Sec. De Lima.
The family of Pascual Guevarra, the first peasant victim of extra-judicial killing under the Aquino government, from Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija also joined the delegation to ask Sec. De Lima of support for the seeking of justice for the victim. Guevarra was killed on July 9, nine days after Aquino’s inaugural.
The family of Noel Baez, a teenager from San Juan, Batangas also sought De Lima’s help. Baez was tortured by elements of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on August 28 when we has invited at a beach outing in Laiya in the said province. Since then, the family said that the teenager have been suffering a mental breakdown and was traumatized of returning home in grave fear of being hunted by the soldiers.
KASAMA – TK’s Liwag was arrested on October 5 at a military checkpoint in Lumban, Laguna. He is being accused as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and illegal possesion of firearms and explosive. The groups said that the charges were totally fabricated as Liwag recently spoke at a press conference on September 29 in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City and attented a protest on Sept. 23 in front of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against the Laguna lake dredging project.
“The rights abuses against peasants have been unabated. It is very disappointing that under Aquino’s watch, he who promised change, human rights violations continued and now increasing in number of victims,” Flores said.
The groups said that there are now 9 peasant victims of extra-judicial killings, 2 of enforced disappearances and 4 of ‘arrest and detention.’ They said that these were the very ingredients of Oplan Bantay Laya during the Arroyo regime and are being continued by the Aquino government.
“We call for freedom for the peasant political prisoners and justice for the victims of EJK and other rights abuses. If these abuses continue, the Aquino government would prove itself as anti-peasant and anti-people, he is just the same as Arroyo on his early days as president, the no. 1 “butcher” of Filipino peasants,” Flores said. #