Amid ceasefire declarations
Stop mass killings, extra-judicial killings of peasants – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – As both sides, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Duterte government announced their respective unilateral ceasefire orders coinciding the holiday season, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao called on government side to forbid its armed forces to carry out mass killings and extra-judicial killings of peasant activists in the country. He said that even in the absence of armed confrontation between the New People’s Army (NPA), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), killings of peasant activists run counter to confidence-building and attaining of a conducive atmosphere for a serious peace negotiations.
“In the past years, though there were formal or informal talks and ceasefire declarations, units of the military have occupied peasant communities, committed human rights abuses, and extra-judicial killings,” the former lawmaker said in a press statement.
He recalled that even when President Rodrigo Duterte committed to pursue the peace talks in the second half of 2016 to early 2017, extra-judicial killings of peasants continued. From July 2016 to March 2017, 46 peasants were killed, based on the data of Karapatan human rights group. Coinciding the declaration for the indefinite ceasefire from late August 2016 and that ended early February 27, 16 peasant activists were killed, including Jimmy Saypan, leader of Compostela Farmers’ Association, killed on October 10, 2016, around the same period of the second round of formal talks in Oslo, Norway.
“We laud this positive step for the peace talks, and we demand that the major agreement on respect for human rights be implemented, for the welfare of peasants and activists in the country,” he said.
The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) was signed by both parties on March 16, 1998. Moreover, he urged both parties to seriously tackle the agenda on socio-economic reforms, that included free distribution of lands to poor farmers, wage hikes, right to shelter and adequate standard of living.
“The president, himself knows, that the armed uprising of poor peasants in the country is brought about by landlessness and abuses. This is the very reason, why he always made sure to attend those distribution of unusable certificate of land ownership awards to farmers, to keep his popular base among the majority sector in the country,” he ended. ###