Focus on the Global South’s Statement of Condemnation on the Killing of Amando Campos y Adlawan

The struggle for the rightful claim to land has again cost a tiller’s life–that of 42-year old Manobo farmer, Amando Campos y Adlawan’s. He was shot pointblank on the face by people supposedly connected with Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc.

We are not in the feudal age of colonial times, neither are we living in the turbulent 1950s; not anymore under a dictatorship, and yet blood is still being spilled in defense of land, of one’s right to a life of dignity and emancipated from poverty, which sadly has become a tragic trend in the Philippines. In January of this year, Arman Padino, 33, a farmer of Hacienda Dolares in Porac, Pampanga died from a gunshot wound by suspected security guards of LLL and FLL Holdings. Four months after, Menelao Barcia, secretary of local farmer group ANIBAN, was killed by two unidentified gunmen. Last year, woman farmer leader Elisa Tulid of Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon was also gunned down on her way home by suspected gun-for-hire. Many more farmers had died for the agrarian reform cause. Hundreds more are systematically harassed, intimidated and forcibly evicted from the lands they have been tilling for a long time.

This is the age of “matuwid na daan” under the Benigno Aquino III presidency on which four years ago Filipino farmers pinned their hopes. This is the period when the 26-year agrarian reform program should have been effectively completed; the time when farmers should have been enjoying the fruits of their labor and contributing to national productivity. And yet this is also the age of impunity–when corporate greed and interests prevail and could cost the lives of farmers who are defending their land. 

Adlawan and other farmers merely wanted to regain control of their land. This almost 4,000-hectare landholding was among the first properties covered under the agrarian reform program in 1988 and awarded by then President Corazon Aquino to the 937 members of the NDC Guthrie Estates Inc. Multipurpose Cooperative (NGEI-MPC). An estimated 60% of these agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs)and NGEI members belong to the indigenous tribes of Agusan del Sur.

A month ago, on July 11, 2014, these ARBs served notice to FPPI management expressing intent to terminate their lease contract which had been executed in 1990 between the FFPI and former officers of the cooperative for the period 1988 to 2032. With an annual rental rate of ₱635.00 per hectare which has never been reviewed much less increased since, the farmers no longer wanted to wait until the contract’s expiration in 2032 to exercise full control over their land. Since then, the FPPI has reportedly resorted to various acts of harassment aimed at instilling fear in the more than 1,000 farmer families who have joined hands to reclaim their right to the land.

How much more blood, how many more farmers—women, children and men— how much louder and stronger should the voices of resistance be, before the state acts?

It has not been a month since President PNoy reported to his “bosses” and proudly claimed achievements by the police in crime solving and in apprehending criminals. But in presidential speech as in fiction, what is not written, what is not spoken, speaks more loudly about truths.  What has happened to the crimes against farmers, those who defended their lives against mining corporations, developers, plantation owners, and landlords?  What is the government’s report on these human rights violations?

In the face of impunity, farmers and agrarian reform advocates shall continue to resist it and corporate crimes and human rights violations; we shall not cease condemning such heinous acts and pushing this government to punish the perpetrators. 

Justice for Armando Campos y Adlawan and his family!

Justice for all those who have been felled fighting for their land and life!


Focus on the Global South-Philippines

August 13, 2014