Emilia and Maricris Quirante, sisters of Rene Quirante imprisoned for
2 years and Fermin Lorico, Chair of Kaugmaon (KMP Negros Oriental)
killed on June 10, 2009
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) lambasted the latest  denial of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (IBPA) based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental of the extra-judicial killing on October 1 of Rene “Ka Toto” Quirante, Deputy Secretary-General of Kapunongan Alang sa Ugma sa Gagmay’ng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros (Kaugmaon, KMP Negros Oriental) at Sitio Amomoyong, Brgy Trinidad, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

Commander of the 302nd IBPA Col. Manuel Ochotorena said  “We strongly deny the accusation of Karapatan (human rights group) that the Army is responsible in the killing of Quirante. It is always expected that they point their accusing fingers at us,” on a Visayan Daily Star news report.

Kaugmaon reported that on September 30, Rene Quirante went to Sitio Amomoyong, Bgy. Trinidad to meet a local group of Kaugmaon. That the said meeting lasted until about 6 pm in the evening, thus he decided to sleep at the house of a local member. At around 2 am of October 1, 2010, they were awaken by voices saying, "Abrihe ang pwertahan mga NPA kami," (Open up, we're NPA) from people outside the house.  Quirante and the host family did answer the door as they believed that the men were members of the 11th Infantry Battalion.  The soldiers forced themselves inside and upon seeing Quirante hit him with the butt of an M-16 armalite.  The soldiers dragged Quirante out to the balcony and continued beating him. Finally they dragged him on the ground where he was shot at the head and chest.  Witnesses said the soldiers number to 30 and shouted "Tinlo na" meaning "It's clear," before leaving the site.

“We condemn stronger Ochotorena’s denial and lies as it has become an SOP (standard operation procedure) for the military to deny of extra-judicial killings of peasant leaders.  They always deny though it is very clear that they are the only group who has the motivation to slaughter peasants struggling for genuine land reform in the country,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-convenor.

“The military also denied hand on the EJK of Pascual Guevarra, the first peasant victim under the Aquino government who was killed on July 9, at his home inside the 3,100-hectare agricultural land of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija.  Thus, the AFP is an army of denials and lies,” Flores said.

Tanggol Magsasaka reported that peasant victims of extra-judicial killings now reach at least 9, including Pascual, 2 from Paquibato District, Davao City, 4 of the Masbate Massacre, a copra farmer in Compostela Valley and now Quirante.  The group is also on the process of verifying the reported killings of 2 farmers in Rizal.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka also said that Quirante is the brother of the “Quirante Sisters,” Emilia and Maricris, peasant women organizers who were falsely accused of rebellion on March 2007 and recently released for lack of evidence as KMP Negros reported.  Emilia Quirante is chair of a municipal chapter of Kaugmaon and Maricris is a literacy program teacher instructing peasants.  KMP said that their case is a classic model of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya of the former Arroyo government.

“The Aquino government and its military are merciless, falsely accusing the Quirante sisters and imprisoning them for 2 years and now killing their brother Rene.  This is an all-out attack to the peasant movement and even family,” Flores said.

KMP also said that the assault on Kaugmaon is worse.  Fermin Lorico, the group’s former chair was also a victim of extra-judicial killing on June 10, 2009 after their anti-charter change rally in Dumaguete City.  He was killed at San Jose Extension, Bgy. Taclobo, Dumaguete City by assailants believed to be agents of the military.

“Fermin Lorico joined us at our peasant camp-out in Congress on our early weeks.  He then returned to Negros Oriental to prepare for the nationwide protest against charter change.  Immediately after June 10 protest, he was followed by the perpetrators and then killed him,” Flores said.

“We hold the Aquino government responsible for this string of extra-judicial killings on peasants.  He promised change but his military is killing us one by one.  He has no land reform program nor any to benefit the Filipino peasantry.  All he has are the Public-Private Partnership program, the extension of Oplan Bantay Laya and the drafting of the new counter-insurgency program guided by the US Counterinsurgency Guide, all anti-peasant and anti-people,” said Flores.

Tanggol Magsasaka also said that aside from extra-judicial killing, the Aquino government now tallies 1 political prisoner-victim of “arrest and detention,” (A & D) and 2 peasant-victims of enforced disappearances.  Dario Tomada, former peasant leader of SAGUPA – SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) was arrested on July 22 and accused of the “mass grave” in Inopacan, Leyte.  In addition, KMP CARAGA reported that Renato Delinguer at Agustino Ladera, from Brgy. Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur was abducted on September 1 and remained missing.  The said area is presently heavily militarized, thus, peasant rights abuses remain unrestricted.

“The Aquino government promised heaven but delivering us hell.  He is no different to the Arroyo government whose human rights record is pitch black.  On his first 100 days, his score is 9 for EJK, 2 for ED (enforced disappearances), 1 for ‘A & D’, as assault on peasants through his extension of OBL,” Flores said.

“With this trend, we call on the peasantry to resist the assault of the Aquino government on peasants.  President Noynoy Aquino is a fogey landlord and their merciless knight against peasants, pro-imperialist and anti-people,” called Flores. #

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