Probe sought on killing of peasant leader

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, together with the Makabayan bloc, filed a resolution calling for an inquiry on the recent extrajudicial killing of a peasant leader in President Roxas, North Cotabato.

House Resolution 805, principally authored by Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, calls for a probe on the extrajudicial killing of Willerme Agorde, Auditor of Mailuminado Farmers Association Inc. (MAFAI). He was gunned down last February 19 by motorcycle-riding men. MFAI has been asserting the farmers’ ownership of land since 1950s against the University of Southern Mindanao-Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST).

“We strongly condemn the killing of Agorde by the Bagani paramilitary. He was killed because of the farmers’ legitimate resistance and their fight to claim the land that they rightfully own,” Tinio said.

Citing latest data from human rights group Karapatan, the solons said that Agorde’s killing is part of the rising number of human rights violations against activists and civilians after the termination of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Nine farmers and indigenous peoples were killed in separate incidents by suspected state agents from February 3 to 19. The group has also recorded eight other political killings this month. A total of 32 activists were killed since Duterte assumed the presidency.

“In just 17 days, the administration’s ‘all-out war’ against the New People’s Army is being revealed as an all-out war against legal mass organizations, activists and civilians who are only struggling for land, freedom from poverty and their other rights,” said Tinio. “We call upon the government to immediately quell the rising killings, rampant violence, threats and harassment against our people and to hold accountable all perpetrators.”
“Together with the Makabayan bloc, we also filed several resolutions to investigate separate cases of human rights violations including HR 649 on the killings and violence against the farming and academic communities in CFCST. We are also pushing for inquiries on several threats, harassment and vilification of students and teachers of Lumad schools in Mindanao,” Castro said.

“The government should be returning to the peace table instead of waging an ‘all-out war’ that historically brands and targets as rebels the civilians and activists,” added Castro. She urged Congress to immediately hear and adopt relevant measures, including House Resolution 769, sponsored by 125 solons, which calls for the resumption of the peace talks. ###