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#StopKillingFarmers in the Philippines!

September 18, 2020
#STOPKILLINGFARMERS campaign poster

Joint statement of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, A Growing Culture, and The Oakland Institute

KMP, AGC, Oakland Institute logos

Farmers are the backbone of the production of one of our most basic needs — food. They are particularly vital in agricultural economies, yet they are among the most vulnerable victims of both deprivation and state persecution. In the Philippines, there have been 274 documented killings of peasants, farmworkers, and fisherfolk related to land dispute cases and agrarian reform advocacy since President Duterte took power in July 2016.

The global public health crisis has not stopped nor slowed down these attacks. 87 farmers have been killed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the very first cases of political assassination under the world’s longest lockdown occurred just days after its imposition. The killings are done with impunity: on March 17th, Marlon Maldos, a young peasant and cultural activist, was gunned down in broad daylight in Bohol.

Advocates of farmers’ rights and genuine agrarian reform have not been spared from the attacks. The most recent victim is 71-year old KMP Deputy Secretary-General Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis. He was brutally killed in his apartment by five men on August 10, amid heightened police presence and manned checkpoints as part of an ‘enhanced community quarantine’. He suffered more than 40 stab wounds. As the National Chairman of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Partylist, Echanis was instrumental in the consolidation of the Filipino peasantry’s demands to be included in historic documents such as GARB (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill) and CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms). For five decades Echanis tirelessly pushed for a thorough-going and redistributive land reform program as a vital component for a just and lasting peace.

These attacks are not coincidental instances of brutalities, but are part of a systematic program by the most rabid fascist elements in the Duterte regime. On December 4th, 2018, the President issued Executive Order 70, forming the National Task Force to Eliminate Communist Armed Conflict. Since then, this publicly funded task force has released unsubstantiated statements accusing legal organizations and even elected officials of being terrorists. It has consistently red-tagged KMP and other poor people’s organizations as “front organizations” of so-called “communists-terrorists” through press statements, public banners, leaflets, and other activities. The threats precede arbitrary arrests and killings, followed by more accusatory and mocking statements from officials and government spokespersons. Memorandum Order 32, in particular, worsened political killings, militarization, and other human rights violations in Negros, Bicol, and Samar regions. Worse, misuse of the Anti-Terror Law, allows any criticism and opposition to government policies to be construed as acts of terrorism and lead to arrest. In Duerte’s Philippines, widespread repression and killing of farmers fighting for their right to land is a state policy.

For the Filipino peasantry, the pandemic has exposed the cruel and rotten state of affairs they are subjected to. The Duterte regime’s disinterest in undertaking genuine agrarian reform and rural development, developing a self-reliant national economy, and protecting the constitutionally-enshrined rights of the people to life, food, and free speech is laid bare by its worsening militarist and bureaucratic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As organizations dedicated to advancing farmers’ rights, KMP, AGC and the Oakland Institute are extending an appeal to the international community. Concerned individuals and personalities, fellow people’s organizations, non-government advocacy organizations, foreign government institutions, and international bodies, please demand President Duterte and his administration to #StopKillingFarmers in the Philippines.

On September 19, 2020, Justice for Echanis, Justice for All (JEJA) network will be launched* in Quezon City, Philippines. JEJA is a broad network of individuals and organizations committing to stand in solidarity in demanding justice for Ka Randy and all peasants killed extrajudicially by the Duterte regime, as well as a broad campaign against all political killings in the Philippines.

Similar activities are planned in other localities and countries, Please follow KMP on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/kilusangmagbubukid and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kmp_phl as well as AGC for updates on #STOPKILLINGFARMERS.

*JEJA’s launch is an on-site gathering of participating organizations, relatives, and loved ones of the victims, and other supporters in the open area of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Monument of Heroes). Physical booths dedicated to some of the killed farmers and other activists will be set up as the whole area will be filled with materials commemorating martyrs. Cultural performances will also be held as other creative and informative materials will be distributed. Health protocols will be strictly followed.

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Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) is the democratic mass organization of Filipino peasants primarily struggling for genuine land reform, social justice, and genuine social change. It is composed of landless peasants, farmworkers, peasant women, youth, and millions of rural poor in the countryside. https://peasantmovementph.com/

A Growing Culture (AGC) is a global coalition focused on eco agriculture technique and information exchange for education & advancement. http://www.agrowingculture.org/

The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/