Farmers group accuses Aquino of tolerating human rights abuses

ON THE occasion of International Day of the Disappeared today, victims of enforced disappearances from Negros Occidental and Quezon province led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) picketed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Quezon City saying the Aquino government’s “Oplan Bayanihan as the main culprit in the abduction of farmers in the countryside.”

The KMP said that since Aquino assumed the presidency or July 2010 to June 2012, a total of 11 enforced disappearances were documented by the human rights watchdog Karapatan.

“The continuing enforced disappearances of farmers in the countryside forms part of the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency plan Bayanihan that continuously inflict terror against farmers struggling for genuine land reform,” says KMP-Negros secretary general Greg Ratin.

Ratin said that under the Aquino administration four farmers in Negros already became victims of enforced disappearances namely Jully Devero, Michael Celeste, Gerard Abale and Novito Gabriel.

He cited that Devero, a farmer from E.B. Magalona, Negros Occidental was abducted by members of the paramilitary group Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) on July 19, 2011.

“The Aquino administration tolerates the human rights abuses committed by RPA-ABB members in Negros and plays a major role and serves in its counter-insurgency drive in the island,” Ratin said.

The Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) who led the “Bakwet” (evacuation) or the exodus of farmer-victims of militarization in Quezon province called for the surfacing of Felix Balaston, a farmer from Macalelon, Quezon, who was abducted on March 27, 2011.

Balaston was allegedly abducted by suspected state security forces and is believed to be detained at the 85th Infantry Batallion detachment in San Miguel Dao, Lopez, Quezon.

“Quezon is now the main laboratory of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. Militarization, strafing, enforced disappearances, and other brutal forms of human rights violations happen with impunity in the province. We demand the immediate pull-out of eight battalions of military troops in Quezon,” the group said.

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