Boy wounded, 4 arrested
Groups condemn violent demolition of farmers community in Pangasinan

The national farmers organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (human rights group) strongly condemned the November 23 violent demolition of about 50 houses of farming families tilling  at Bgy. Tebag, Sta. Barbara town of Pangasinan.  The groups likened the day-long demolition to the Hacienda Luisita massacre as elements of the Philippine National Police fired shots wounding a 13-year-old boy and arrested four farmers.

“We condemn this latest attack on farming communities, without notice though they were CLT holders.  We blame this on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ or CARPer as this law did not give any protection to the farmer-beneficiaries,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Co-convenor.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, KMP Central Luzon) reported that this is the third attempt of demolition, the last was on May 25.  The affected farmers were holders of Certificate of Land Transfer or beneficiaries of PD 27 the land reform program of the Marcos dictatorship.  They were tilling the lands for about 30 years but now they are being driven off by a landlord Humberto Solis, in collusion with government officials and forces.

AMGL said that Tuesday morning, a 60-man demolition team and 50 elements of PNP in full battle gear with no name tags, alongwith a fire truck of the local government arrived at Bgy. Tebag.  There were no prior notice to the farmers that their houses would be demolished, thus, they prepared themselves to defend it.  At 9am, police forces started to fire shots and the farmers retaliated by throwing stones.  The demolition team and the police retreated.

But at 3pm the demolition team and police returned and took advantage of the farmers’ surprise and fear of being killed by the former’s gunfire aimed at them.  Thus, a boy was shot at the leg, namely Renelo Cablayan a 13-year-old boy.  Police also beat up a 35-year-old farmer, Jerry Arandia and arrested four farmers, Diosado Dalupe, 24, Grace Dalupe, 27, Arnold Montemayor, 35, a 64-year-old farmer, Domingo Neri.  The farmers also lost their belongings during the demolition that lasted until 5pm late afternoon.

Upon being brought to the police municipal headquarters, the families of those arrested were barred to visit or even to give water.  Farmers said that the demolition was traumatic as the police were armed with M-16 armalite long rifles, .45-caliber short arms and truncheons.

“This is very similar to what happened in Hacienda Luisita, government forces using armed violence to demolish the farmers’ houses, wounding and attempting to kill them,” Flores said.

“When CARPer was passed last year, there were increasing reports of landgrabbing and demolition of farmers’ communities such as in Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, Hacienda Looc in Batangas, Bgy. Sibul, San Miguel Bulacan, La Paz, Tarlac, Tungkong Mangga, Bulacan, Bgy. Central in Hacienda Luisita and more,” he said.

“Filipino farmers are in worse danger now as CARPer allowed the rampant cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), CLTs and Emancipation Patents (EPs).  We also believe that these demolitions are to give way to massive Land Use Conversions (LUCs) as president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is encouraging the Public-Private Partnership program for foreign investors and big landlords,” he added.

“We condemn this newest attack against the farmers.  We call on people’s sectors to support their cause.  We would drum up this issue this coming human rights week and call for the immediate stop of landgrabbing and demolitions of farming communities.  We hold the Aquino government and his paid police forces responsible for the violation of basic rights of farmers of Bgy. Tebag, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan,” Flores called. #

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