The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on Sunday condemned the “massacre” of four farmers by alleged armed goons of a politician in Nueva Ecija.
KMP chairman Joseph Canlas said the suspects were allegedly affiliated with Palayan City Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas, whom he accused of being involved in landgrabbing.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this apparent massacre of farmers inside the Fort Magsaysay. This latest assault adds to the long list of rights abuses committed by landlord politicians against the peasantry who are struggling for genuine land reform and asserting their right to the lands,” Canlas said.
Reports coming from the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) said the victims—Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay—were doing their farm chores inside the disputed 3,100-hectare Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija when armed men started to shoot at them.
“These killings related to land dispute in Fort Magsaysay cause further alarm especially since the victims are ordinary, unarmed farmers who are only exercising their legitimate, democratic rights,” Canlas added.
The Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation was awarded to farmers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program on Nov. 5, 1991.
“By virtue of a 1991 Deed of Transfer between the Department of National Defense and the Department of Agrarian Reform, some 6,000 peasants and other residents should have acquired ownership of the lands they live on and till. But the Certificates of Land Ownership Award were rendered useless because it failed to defend the farmers’ rights over the lands,” Canlas said.
“Since 2008, the military, particularly the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has been instrumental in denying Fort Magsaysay farmers of their rights to own the lands by asking the cancellation of the CLOAs,” the peasant leader added.
The KMP has called on the Department of Agrarian Reform and the committees on human rights of both houses of Congress to probe the killing.