Farmers, advocates vow to push back vs. wave of state repression – updates from the peasant movement of the Philippines

In a media forum today, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and peasant-based human rights wathdog Tanggol Magsasaka (Defend Farmers) said farmers will persist to fight back against the wave of state repression and what it described as the monstrosity of Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s administration that is accountable for the worsening human rights violation in the country, with most victims coming from the peasant sector.

“We call on all democratic sectors to stand with farmers,” according to KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos. The worsening human rights situation of farmers and the attacks on the progressive peasant movement, obliges us to start a push back campaign — the “Stand With Farmers, Stop The Attacks Against Farmers Who Feed Our Nation,” a broad campaign to advocate and defend the rights of the Filipino peasantry,” according to Tanggol Magsasaka.
“Through this campaign, we enjoin sectors to push back against worsening attacks on human rights.”

Based on the documentation of human rights group KARAPATAN, from July 2022 to December 2023, under Marcos Jr., there were more than 1.6 million victims of threat, harassment, and intimidation, mainly through red-tagging and terrorist-tagging. KMP and its leaders are among those who were openly red-tagged by the NTF-ELCAC. Red-tagging often leads to far worse human rights violations such as extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, torture, illegal arrests and detention and filing of fabricated criminal charges. Fifty-nine out of the 89 victims of extrajudicial killings under the current administration are peasants.

Tanggol Magsasaka said the Supreme Court’s recent declaration that red-tagging, vilification, labeling, and guilt by association threaten a person’s right to life, liberty, or security, must warrant concrete actions to decisively stop red-tagging and reign in the red-taggers namely the NTF-ELCAC. “We reiterate our call and demand to abolish the NTF-ELCAC, junk the E0 70 and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) as these are the main state machineries behind rights abuses.”

The arbitrary and baseless labeling of farmers and human rights defenders brings to fore the weaponization of the ATA against political dissent, human rights work and advocacy in the Philippines, including dangerous implications on the rights to due process and against warrantless arrests, among others.

KMP said the Special Human Rights Committee formed by Malacanang and boasted as the “human rights super body” tasked to “enhance government mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.” “By forming this so-called “special human rights super body,” Marcos Jr admits to the dire and serious human rights situation in the country, where impunity reigns over justice and accountability. We are wary that this Committee would be just another committee that will whitewash and window-dress the blatant and wanton state-sponsored human rights abuses.”

Amid its posturing of “protecting human rights” before the international community, Marcos Jr.’s administration viciously carries out one of the worst violations of human rights and international humanitarian law – the bombing of rural communities as part of its counterinsurgency campaign. More than 22,000 individuals were victimized by aerial and artillery bombings in the past two years.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka and their allies will launch Stand with Farmers fora series in communities, workplaces, schools, will continue to file complaints in local and international legal bodies to amplify the issues and demands of farmers. ###

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Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) was founded at a time of great political upheaval and broad mass movement against the tyranny and abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. Hundreds of peasant leaders and land reform advocates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao gathered during the historic founding of KMP on July 24, 1985. After thirty five years, KMP remains as the largest national democratic mass organization of peasants in the Philippines.

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