The national farmers organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and its regional chapters nationwide support the call for freedom of Morong 43 who are presently on hunger strike to protest their continued illegal detention. In addition, the first peasant political prisoner under the Aquino government, Dario Tomada is also to go on fasting as his support for the detained health workers. Tomada was arrested July 22, three weeks after Aquino’s inauguration, accused of the alleged “mass graves” or multiple murder in Inopacan, Leyte. He is now detained at the Manila City Jail.
“The case of Morong 43 is the classic model of political persecution in the country. Those who serve the people are being targeted by the military, accused of trumped up charges and detained indefinitely. This is an international black eye to the Aquino government who boast of being democratic and pro-human rights. We support the call for the immediate and unconditional release of Morong 43, Tomada, Felicidad Caparal, Darwin Liwag and the Lumban 3, Esmeraldo Bardon and the Daet 4, Antipolo 4, Talisay 3 and other political prisoners in the country,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-convenor.
KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka said that Morong 43 are victims of state abuse with the military as its primary perpetrator. The groups added that the Aquino government is using the Dept. of Justice led by Sec. Leila De Lima to pacify the families of detained health workers while the military continues to persecute leaders and members of legal and democratic organizations.
“We appreciate Sec. De Lima’s upholding of the rights of Morong 43 and other political prisoners but it would be doomed to nothingness if the AFP’s commander-in-chief Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino continues to allow its military to simply ransack offices of legal activists, plant evidences and accused them of trumped up charges, as what they did Daet, Camarines Norte, arresting KMP Camarines Norte Chair Esmeraldo Bardon and other 3 activists,” said Flores.
Tanggol Magsasaka added that Dario Tomada, former chair of SAGUPA - SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) has fled his region in 2006 as activists and supporters were being targeted for extra-judicial killings. On March 2007, an arrest warrant was issued against him by the Hilongos Regional Trial Court. Tomada worked odd jobs in Manila until his arrest on July 22 in Biñan, Laguna.
In addition, Felicidad Caparal, organizer of agri-workers from Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) continues to be detained in Bubon Provincial Jail in Northern Samar. She was arrested on January 27, 2009 at Lavezares town while on a trip home to fetch her sickly mother. She is accused of being a member of the New People’s Army and involved with an ambuscade. Her rights are continuously violated as she is always harassed by elements of the military inside the jail without the consent of her lawyers or court’s approval.
“The accusation against Caparal is a total lie as she is with the national office of UMA and an organizer of agri-workers. She is always with us every major peasant campaign on January, June, November and October. We call for her immediate and unconditional release,” Flores said.
KMP added that Darwin Liwag, Secretary-General of PUMALAG (KMP Laguna), Vice-Chair of KASAMA-TK (KMP Southern Tagalog) and a member of the KMP National Council was arrested October 5 in Lumban, Laguna. He was coordinating with the members of PUMALAG when he was illegally arrested at a checkpoint, consequently subjected to grueling torture.
“As the Aquino government and the military know that the peasants from Laguna is active in opposing the Laguna lake dredging project, calling for genuine land reform and against CARPer, they have targeted their leader Darwin Liwag. He is accused of being a member of the NPA though prior his arrest he spoke at a press conference on September 30 at the peasant camp-out in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform and on September 23, he led the protest in front of the DENR office against the Laguna lake dredging project. The military is a bunch of total liars only out to persecute legal and democratic activists,” Flores said.
KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka said that peasant leaders would join the solidarity fasting for the immediate freedom of Morong 43 on December 9, and the big mobilization on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
“President Aquino has yet to prove anything favorably for the protection and promotion of human rights. His government continues to allow unabated extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, political persecution and massive militarization in the countryside. He is a fascist president imposing state terrorism against the legal and democratic movement. The immediate freedom of Morong 43 and other political prisoners would rely mainly on the people’s active campaign and struggle and Aquino only serve as a stumbling block joining the military in attacking the people,” Flores called. #