Peasant activists killed over defense of land

"Two more lives were taken in defense of their land," Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson said following the killing of couple Roger and Lucila Vargas on September 19, 2015 in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. The Vargas couple was in the middle of a land dispute with the influential Singsons of Ilocos Sur who claims ownership of the couple’s 2.5 hectares of land. The Singson family is also after at least 11 hectares of land in San Isidro Village, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, occupied and tilled by many other farmers.

Peasant leader killed in Bulacan

Peasant leader killed in Bulacan 

"The killing of the Vargas couple because of incursions into their land, came right after the massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, the victims of which were also defending their 'yutang kabilin' (ancestral land). 

As of end August 2015, there are 175 peasants killed under the BS Aquino regime.
In the afternoon of September 19, the couple were on their way to the market on a tricycle when motorcycle-riding gunmen fired at them. Roger, who was shot in the head, immediately died. Lucila, who also sustained gunshot wounds, was still able to call and talk to Cecil Rapis, also peasant leader, to tell her Roger is dead. When Rapis asked if Lucila recognized the people who shot them, "Oo. Kilala namin (Yes. We do)," Lucila replied. Then the line was cut off. Lucila died before she reached the hospital. The tricycle driver survived the attack. 

The day before the incident, the couple had a confrontation with the guards who claimed they work for the Singsons. The Vargas couple were active members of Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Magsasaka sa San Isidro and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan. They left behind eight children. 

"The killing of the Vargas couple further shows how peasants are marginalized and their interests undermined by the BS Aquino regime in favour of the landlord and big business," Enriquez said. "Also, the proliferation of private armed groups/paramilitary groups used by the AFP to “protect” landlords and big business and in terrorizing communities emboldens landlords to do the same," Enriquez said. 

Troops of the 48th Infantry Battalion are deployed in the community. They were reported to have been occupying the Brgy. Hall in San Isidro starting this year. 

"The political killing is meant to silence the farmers of San Jose Del Monte who are facing threats of eviction from real estate monarchs Aranetas and Villars, and the construction of the MRT 7," Enriquez concluded.