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Philippine government must put an immediate stop to the killings of peasant leaders and impunity

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Peasant leaders have been demanding for genuine agrarian reform from successive Philippine governments, but instead of addressing these grievances, the peasant leaders are being murdered, and the perpetrators are still free. Since 15 April, another three peasant leaders
had been killed. FORUM-ASIA has condemned the killings and impunity and demand that the perpetrators be held responsible.FORUM-ASIA strongly condemns the continued extra judicial killings of peasant activists and leaders in the Philippines, including the latest three victims, who were killed since 15April.

On 24 April, Enrico Cabanit, secretary general of Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA), was shot dead at the Panabo City Public Market, Mindanao by two unidentified assassins.

On 22 April, Porferio Maglasang, chair of the Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid (PKMM) chapter in Kabankalan had been forcibly taken from his house and shot in his backyard in Sitio Caraan, Barangay Camansi, in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental.

Earlier, on 15 April, Rico Adeva, an Akbayan and Task Force Mapalad (TFM) organiser had been brutally murdered in Barangay Bagtic, Silay, Negros Occidental.

The murdered peasant leaders and human rights defenders were at the forefront of advocating genuine agrarian reform, social justice and social and economic rights of severely disadvantaged and marginalised Filipino peasants.

The series of killings add up to the long list of extra-judicial executions of human rights defenders in Negros, Central Luzon and Mindanao.

We call on the Philippine government to immediately address the demands for genuine agrarian reform by Filipino peasants—one, that will help pave the way for the realisation of their economic, social, cultural and other human rights and help deliver Philippine agriculture on the road to recovery and genuine development.

Only with such policies and actions and with active participation of these right-claimants as well as the rural working peoples, and not the killing of peasant leaders, will the historical injustices that have caused rural and agrarian unrest for decades in the Philippine countryside, be effectively rectified..

We also demand that the Philippine government brings to justice all perpetrators responsible for the killing of Enrico, Porferio, Rico and other peasant leaders and ensure a safe environment for human rights defenders, particularly peasant leaders to operate, in line with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other international human rights treaties that Philippines is a party to.

If the Philippines is to be considered a worthy candidate to the UN Human Rights Council, it is essential that it takes, and is seen as taking, immediate steps to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and end impunity from violations against defenders.

For further details, please contact Niza Concepcion (+66-7-9072537/ [email protected])

Anselmo Lee
Executive Director