An international movement of grassroots groups of small food producers and food sovereignty advocates warned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday that the rampant killing of farmers and indigenous peoples have grave consequences. The group also expressed its support to the European Parliament’s resolution for an independent probe to the killings and abuses under the current administration.
The Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) rebuked the Duterte government anew on its “obstinate refusal” to an independent investigation on the extrajudicial killings in the drug war and of activists in the country. PCFS issued the statement on the occasion of the Martial Law declaration’s 48th anniversary, a historic time in the Philippines that marked former President Ferdinand Marcos’s all-out dictatorship and ruthless rights violations.
“Killing farmers at any point in time, let alone amid a global food emergency, is a grave crime against humanity. Yet the Duterte government is trying to get away with murdering hundreds [of farmers], which included ten massacres,” said Chennaiah Poguri of PCFS Asia.
According to the group, at least 21 summary execution of farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples were recorded this year, many of which are tied to land rights and resource grabbing. Likewise, PCFS member Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas has reported that there have been 274 documented peasant killings since Duterte took power in July 2016.
“Peasant massacres are, in history, an insignia of a worsening dictatorship in the Philippines, and the Duterte regime has at least ten farmer mass graveyards under its belt,” said PCFS co-chairperson and Martial Law survivor Sylvia Mallari.
PCFS said Duterte’s farmer killings include at least ten known peasant massacres such as the 14 agricultural workers gunned down in Negros last year as well as the murder of five in Bicol, central Philippines and nine in Kabacan, Cotabato province in southern Philippines that both transpired amid the pandemic. The Philippines has also been tagged as “the most dangerous country for land and environment defenders” since last year following the spate of rural killings in the country.
“We are one with the Filipino people as they commemorate two of the darkest chapters of our history: the declaration of the Marcos dictatorship and one of its emblematic feats of degeneracy – the Escalante massacre.
“We bleed with the murdered Lumad of Lake Sebu, farmworkers of Sagay, farmers of the Negros 14, and the hundreds of farmers and their communities plunged into yet again another bloody dictatorship,” Mallari added
Yesterday, Sept. 20 marks the 25th anniversary of the Escalante massacre, where government forces gunned down civilians – mostly sugarcane farmworkers and youth – amid a demonstration against the Marcos regime.
In addition, the Coalition has thrown its support to the EU Parliament resolution which cites peasant killings among others as the basis for its call for an independent investigation. The said resolution also notes the recent murder of agrarian reform and peace advocate Randall Echanis as one of the “at least 208 human rights defenders, journalists, and trade unionists” killed under the Duterte government.
“We hope that other governments and intergovernmental mechanisms like the UN Human Rights Council follow suit in condemning the atrocities of the Duterte administration,” Poguri added.
The Coalition also reported that hundreds of thousands of rural food producers and indigenous peoples remain displaced and put under constant harassment in heavily militarized communities in the last three years.
“Like the [late] dictator Marcos, Duterte is sitting atop the corpses of farmers and activists and spits on their graves by denying them justice. But if there is any lesson he should learn from Marcos, it is that dictators topple one way or another,” warned Mallari.
The Coalition then called to all its members, allies, and food sovereignty advocates to support Filipino food producers and people in seeking justice for the farmers needlessly slain in the country. ###