Killings, detention of peasants show Duterte’s contempt for the poor majority - Karapatan

Karapatan condemned the recent killing of peasant leaders Julius Broce Barellano and Arnel Penaso, as well as the recent illegal arrest and detention of peasant organizer Pedro Lumantas, saying these rights violations further demonstrate “the Duterte regime’s contempt for the majority of poor peasants in the country.”

On June 27, 2018, Barellano, 36, Chairperson of the Hacienda Medina Farmworkers’ Association, an affiliate of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, was shot by an unnamed assailant at around 8:30 in the morning. The victim was about to enter their family’s house when the assailant onboard a motorcycle shot him in the foot and chest. He was rushed to the San Carlos City Hospital, but he did not survive.

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Barellano and members of the said association have been campaigning against the landgrabbing efforts of businessman Wellington Uy, who tried to eject them thrice. The campaigns and petitions of the farmworkers in local courts have been successful in preventing Uy from fully occupying their land.

On June 21, Penaso, 48, an active member of the San Antonio Marapat Farmers Association (SAMFA) was shot dead in his house at Purok 2, Brgy. Poblacion, Compostela, Compostela Valley by another unnamed assailant onboard a motorcycle. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds. In May this year, the 25th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army summoned Penaso to their headquarters. He was told that he was under surveillance.

Penaso’s family was among those affected by the supertyphoon Pablo that hit southern Philippines in December 2012. He had actively campaigned for the provision of adequate relief and decent housing for the victims of the said typhoon.  

“The pattern of killings, the perpetrators being men on motorcycles and the victims being local peasant activists, are chilling reminders on how political killings were done by soldiers during the administrations of Macapagal-Arroyo and Aquino III. The pattern also bears a striking resemblance to the tokhang-style killing of suspected drug users and pushers under Duterte. Apparently, those in power hate the poor so much, that they have no regard for their lives,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, citing at least 123 peasants killed under Duterte as of March 2018.

On June 16, Pedro Lumantas, 54, member and organizer of Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL), an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), was arrested, while he was undergoing treatment for sustained gunshot wounds at Ramiro Hospital in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, by joint operatives from the 47th Infantry Battalion- Philippine Army and the Bohol-Philippine National Police (PNP). A few days before his arrest, Lumantas was shot by armed men in his residence in Sevilla town and was brought to the said hospital for treatment. Before he was shot, he recalled that he noticed armed men loitering around his residence several times.

The arrest warrant against Lumantas was issued by Judge Suceso A. Arcamo of Regional Trial Court (RTC) 47, Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Soldiers alleged that Lumantas was the Deputy Secretary of Bohol Party Committee, Komiteng Rehiyon Southern Bohol, and thus the warrant for multiple murder charges were issued against him. After his arrest, Lumantas was turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and is currently detained at the Bohol Provincial Jail.

Pedro Lumantas was a former political prisoner who was arrested on July 26, 2008 and was falsely convicted for charges of illegal possession of explosives. He was paroled in December 2016.

“If the soldiers and police fail in their attempts to kill peasants and others whom they perceive as ‘enemies of the State,’ they arrest them based on fabricated charges,” Clamor said.

“Duterte and his military dogs should be brought to justice. Their unspeakable acts of violence and their gross disregard of people’s rights deserve the Filipino peasants’ and poor people’s wrath,” Clamor concluded.   

For reference: Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, 0999-7721233

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580