What’s in Negros Island that killings, violence and poverty keep on pounding the province and its people seems to have not known peace in their lives? Why is the State is using it as a laboratory or testing ground for something so dangerous that they seem desiring for the entire country?
The series of extrajudicial killings in Negros against the farmers, sugar workers, teachers which Defend Negros recorded to have reached 87 victims since Duterte got into power is seriously alarming. Amidst hunger and poverty, Negros remains to be one of the 20 poorest provinces in the country. Since Marcos Martial Law, Arroyo’s Oplan Makabayan to Duterte’s counter insurgency operation and Oplan Sauron, Negros figured prominently in the number of killings and horrible human rights violations. The killings of hapless victims are now being used to condition the people’s minds into declaring Martial Law.
The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) joins the voices of those who reject the militarist Duterte government’s plan to declare Martial Law in Negros, amidst the numerous onslaughts on peasants, farmworkers, human rights advocates and activists.
Martial Law will only increase the killings, as the primary suspects for most of these murders are state agents themselves. For instance, one of the victims, Felipe Dacal-Dacal, an active member of National Federation of Sugar Worker (NFSW) in Escalante, Negros Occidental, who was shot last June 8, 2019, was able to tell his relatives that his assailant was a Philippine Army intelligence officer.
Extrajudicial killings escalated when Duterte issued Memorandum 32 in November 2018, which ordered more deployment of military and police in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol region to suppress what they claim as lawless violence and acts of terror. Then on December 2018, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), implemented Oplan Sauron1 and Oplan Sauron2 last March 2019 – the government’s counter insurgency operation in the province.
The killings in Negros include two (2) massacres – the Sagay Massacre wherein nine (9) sugarcane farmworkers were killed and the Canlaon Massacre where 14 farmers were murdered. One of the most recent and the youngest victim is a one-year old baby who was killed alongside his father in Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.
Negros has had a long and bloody history of people’s struggle for land, higher wages for workers, against hunger and justice. For many decades, landlords with their vast haciendas rule over the island and worsen the oppression of peasants and farmworkers. The people, on the other hand, find means to fight back. They organize themselves into unions and people’s organizations, cultivate idle lands that Certificate of Land Ownership (CLOA) issued to them by the government to feed themselves and stand up for their rights.
A declaration of Martial Law in Negros will worsen the situation in the island for the alleged perpetrators will be given more power. They will sow more fear and trample on human rights of the people especially those who are actively standing up for their land and rights.
We join all peace-loving Filipinos in opposing and resisting this plan of declaring Martial rule in Negros. We urge the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the international community, especially the United Nations Human Rights Council to look into this matter and pressure the Duterte government to halt the plan to impose martial law, stop the killings, hold the real perpetrators to account and give peace a chance in Negros!
Stop the Killings!
Justice for All the Victims!
Peace in Negros Now!
07 August 2019
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26
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