Farmers' group leader killed in Isabela
CAGAYAN, Philippines – A leader of a local farmers' group was killed by unknown assailants in Delfin Albano town in Isabela on Wednesday morning, September 7.
According to a police report submitted to the Cagayan Valley regional police, 3 "heavily" armed men shot dead Ariel Diaz in Villa Pereda village in Delfin Albano town at around 8 am on Wednesday.
Diaz was the chairperson of the Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon (DAGAMI), a local chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Isabela and the inter-municipal Peasant Alliance Against Foreign Landgrabbing in Northern Isabela. He was also an organizer of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA Pilipinas) in Delfin Albano.
UMA Pilipinas described Diaz as "active" in various campaigns to expose big land issues in the province, including cases in vast sugar and cassava plantations.
KMP expressed alarm over the "rising trend of extrajudicial killings against farmers under the Duterte administration." It noted that Diaz is the 5th farmer to suffer the fate in just 5 days.
On September 3, still unidentified men gunned down 4 farmers as they tilled an area inside the Fort Magsaysay reservation in Nueva Ecija, which is locked in a dispute between agrarian reform beneficiaries and the landowners.
"Nakaburol pa nga ang mga magsasakang minasaker sa Fort Magsaysay noong Sabado, may magsasaka na namang binaril at pinatay sa Isabela," said KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores.
(The 4 farmers who were killed in Fort Magsaysay last Saturday are yet to be buried and here comes another farmer killed in Isabela.)
Flores believed that "both the killings in Isabela and Nueva Ecija are linked to agrarian disputes with the perpetrators believed to be either hired goons or state security forces that serve as private armies of land-grabbers."
"We call on the Duterte government to put a stop to these politically-motivated killings. It is highly-condemnable that farmers who defend their right to the lands are being killed," Flores said.
The KMP described Isabela as among the "hotbeds" of agrarian disputes in the country as land monopoly, land-grabbing, and land conversion are "rampant" in the province.
In another statement, UMA Pilipinas said the killing of Diaz is a “brutal but cowardly act done to silence our farmers."
"The killings come at a time when peace talks and the necessary socio-economic reforms such as land reform and labor issues are being discussed by the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF)," said UMA secretary-general Danilo Ramos.
Randy Malayao, an NDF peace consultant in Luzon, also condemned the killing. – Rappler.com