By Chito Chavez
Farmers and peasant sectors trooped to Mendiola in Manila Friday to protest what they claimed are human rights abuses committed within their ranks.
Members of peasant organizations carried makeshift coffins and cadavers to allegedly represent the situation of ‘Filipinos ‘being killed like chickens’ by the government.
The militant groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Tanggol Magsasaka said they have documented 173 farmers and land reform advocates who have been killed.
Danilo Ramos, KMP chairman, said “farmers, fisherfolks, peasant women and rural youth all suffer from Oplan Kapayapaan.
He described it as the government’s main weapon against its own citizens saying “this policy of militarization and killings have become the norm under the current Martial-law like conditions imposed across the country’’.
“This has resulted in even more difficult situations for farmers already downtrodden by perpetual poverty and landlessness,’’ Ramos said.
In a statement, the militant group said the government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and other forces have unleashed an arsenal of attacks against farmers, poor peasants, indigenous people and the rural population.
Ramos added that majority of the 1,450 individuals illegally arrested and 148 individuals harassed with trumped-up criminal charges were farmers.
He complained that local KMP leaders are included in the government’s fake terror list, local wanted list and the AFP’s hit list.
The KMP noted that majority of the more than 500 political prisoners still languishing in jails nationwide are farmers charged and convicted with criminal and non-bailable cases as a result of their efforts to advance farmers’ rights and genuine land reform.
The peasant group and its members will join the even larger nationwide protests and mass actions on International Human Rights Day on December 10.