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Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2006 at 7:29 AM
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The Philippine Peasant Support Network-USA vehemently condemns the mass arrests of peasant leaders in Quezon and support he just call of ANAKPAWIS representative Rafael Marinao’s call that asked the House of Representatives’ committees on agrarian reform and human rights to investigate the arrest of 48 activists and the violent dispersal here on Saturday of protesting tenants.
Pesante-USA Condemns Mass Arrest of Peasants in Quezon. Support ANAKPAWIS Solon call for Probe
Los Angeles –The Philippine Peasant Support Network-USA vehemently condemns the mass arrests of peasant leaders in Quezon and support the just call of ANAKPAWIS representative Rafael Marinao’s call that asked the House of Representatives’ committees on agrarian reform and human rights to investigate the arrest of 48 activists and the violent dispersal here on Saturday of protesting tenants.
The farmers and the leaders including with children, were demanding a bigger share of the farm produce of one of the biggest landlords in Quezon province. The arrested farmers include veteran Quezon activist leader Pedro “Tata Pido” Gonzalez, Pamalakaya national vice chair, Guillermo Bautista, chair of the Southern Tagalog peasant group Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka-Timog Katalugan; and Domingo Escamillas, chair of Pinag-isang Lakas ng Magbubukid sa Quezon.
“Instead of facing and heeding the legitimate grievances of the farmers, it appears that (San Narciso town Mayor Victor) Reyes used his influence, employed the police and armed civilians to violently disperse the protesting farmers,” Rafael Mariano, Anakpawis party-list representative and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines or KMP) chair, said in a statement..
“Even women and children were not spared. We vehemently condemn this barbaric act,” he said.
Pesante-USA express solidarity with Mariano’s action. He said he would file a resolution upon resumption of Congress early next month for the committees to investigate the violent dispersal. Mariano said that agrarian reform officials in the province had a lot of explaining to do over the vast landholdings of the Reyes clan.
“This proves the failure of the Arroyo government’s so-called land reform program,” Mariano said, referring to the 18-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. He demanded that the departments of agrarian reform, defense and local government scrap Memorandum Circular No. 9 which allows the involvement of police and the military in agrarian cases.
Meanwhile in a separate media report Pesante learned that the KMP also express poutrage over the mass arrest. “It is one of the primary justifications and excuse of the government to militarize the countryside and protect even the most despotic landlords. It is also one of the reasons why human rights violations and massacres are being endlessly perpetrated against the helpless peasants,” Carl Ala, KMP spokesman, said in a media report.
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a fishermen’s alliance urged Quezon representatives Danilo Suarez, Proceso Alcala, Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III and Rafael Nantes to also call for a congressional inquiry.
Gerry Albert Corpuz, Pamalakaya spokesman, said the case of “Quezon 48” is one glaring example of the “naked use of state security forces to violate legitimate and basic constitutional rights in the name of state terrorism and class interest of despotic landlords.”
Meanwhile, Robert de Castro, Bayan Muna deputy secretary-general, said the feudal exploitation of peasant must be ended and that that the sharing of farm produce be changed in favor of the tillers. It is a major demand of the protesting farmers is the change in the prevailing sharing system from 25-75 percent in favor of the landlord to 75-25 percent in favor of the farmers.
Before the arrest, the police violently used water cannon to disperse the group of protesting farmers and activists holding a “people's camp” in front of the family compound here of the late Don Domingo Reyes, one of the biggest landlords in the province.
As per new news report said the farmers were released and the farmers countered with their own charges against the police, the landlord and the military in a court case they filed against those who arrested them.
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