The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) said that more peasants and activists were victims of extra-judicial killings than those of mediamen.  The groups reacted as the US government through its Philippine ambassador Harry Thomas issued his condemnation of the recent spate of killings of journalists almost a week after incoming president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III promised to pursue justice for the victims.

“We join the media in pursuing justice for the victims of the recent killings, particularly the campaign of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP), but we would like to remind Noynoy Aquino and the US government that before media became recurring victims of extra-judicial killings, EJK has already taking toll on peasants and activists,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General.

Tanggol Magsasaka said that of the 1,190 EJK victims since Arroyo became president, 561 were peasants and among them were 119 KMP leaders including Eddie Gumanoy of KASAMA-TK (KMP Southern Tagalog), Renato Pacaide of KMP – Far Southern Mindanao Region, Atrhur Orpilla and Dionisio Battad of DANGGAYAN – CV (KMP Cagayan Valley), Marcelino Beltran of AMT (KMP Tarlac), Fermin Lorico of KAUGMAON (KMP Negros Oriental), Celso Pojas of FADC (KMP Davao City) and many more.

In addition, there were 129 victims of enforced disappearances including Jonas Burgos of AMB (KMP Bulacan) and Nilo Arado of PAMANGGAS – Panay (KMP Panay) and scores of peasant leaders and activists were in prison accused of fabricated charges.  The groups said that these righs abuses against peasants are through Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

The media group NUJP recorded 139 media victims since 1986 or an average of 6 per year, while peasant victims reached to 561 in 9 years or an average of 63 victims annually.  

“We are not in contest of having more EJK victims but we want to remind Aquino and the US to see the facts, not to be selective and discriminatory, as human rights is not and it is universal,” Ramos said.

“Are we peasants lesser citizens who should be ignored? Though we are the ones who produce our food, struggle for our rights to land and in the process become victims of rights abuses. Should we flood the streets rallying first before our rights be protected? If we should, then we really would,” lamented Ramos.

“We urge Aquino to discipline the military and not pamper them when he becomes president, punish those who are guilty and responsible.  Punish ‘the butcher’ Gen. Jovito Palparan who wreaked havoc wherever he was assigned,” Ramos added.   

“We also demand justice for victims of rights abuses and a realization of this is for him to prosecute Arroyo of crimes against humanity as the gruesome era of killings of peasants and activists was under her government.  If he is able to do this, he shall prove firstly that he is for democracy and human rights,” Ramos said.  #

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