Peasant groups and rights advocates condemned the new year’s first extra-judicial killing of a peasant leader in Santa Rosa town, Nueva Ecija on January 2.  The victim was Oyi Villarosa, a peasant leader of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), the regional chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines).  KMP and Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights (Tanggol Magsasaka) condemned the latest attack on peasants and criticized the Aquino government for its inaction to stop the continuing EJK against peasants.

“We condemn this latest brutal attack on the peasant movement and the Aquino government is equally liable as it is now on its implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, which goal is to repress the intensifying peasant struggle in the countryside,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary - General in a press statement.

“This is the first EJK against peasants of the year, thus, proving the military and its hired killers are not observing the holidays and are on all-out attack against peasant activists,” Ramos added.

Tanggol Magsasaka said that based on the initial reports of AMGL, Villarosa was on his way home from a day-long work on his farm when men riding a Honda XRM shot dead Villarosa with a .45 caliber handgun.  The peasant leader succumbed to 4 gunshot wounds.

Prior to the incident, the assailants were seen by witnesses on a convoy with town police on a mobile car and a yellow-colored pick-up truck with plate number  RBS-314 roaming around the farms.

“The latest killing shows the Aquino government is not serious about stopping EJK in the country.  The attack continues in the countryside targeting those who struggle for genuine agrarian reform,” said Antonio Flores, Tanggol Magsasaka Co-convenor.

Flores said that even during the period of ceasefire declared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), government forces conducted operations particularly in Occidental Mindoro and Panay island.  Their operations in Mindoro resulted the killing of Lester Barrientos, a cultural activists who regularly participated major peasant campaigns in Metro Manila.  Barrientos was only on a holiday visit when he was killed by the military.

“The killings of Villarosa and Barrientos are unacceptable.  These are concrete proof that Oplan Bayanihan is no different to Oplan Bantay Laya, its objective is to kill those who struggle for genuine land reform, democracy and freedom,” Flores said.

The groups said that the Aquino government’s record of violating peasant rights tolled 13 victims of EJK last year, 2 of enforced disappearances and 5 accused of trumped-up charges.  Thus, the groups declare that on the coming 24th year commemoration of the Mendiola Massacre, they would challenge president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to put a stop to rampant killings and abuses against peasants.

“Aquino’s time is running out and the Filipino people would finally learn that he is no different from past presidents who were landlords, human rights violators, anti-peasant and anti-people.  He is doomed with the people’s abhorrence, struggle and resistance,” Ramos and Flores said.  #

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