Manila, Philippines – As peasant and peasant women victims of human rights abuses from Samar and Leyte lobbies for support in Metro Manila, Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women condemned the onslaught brought about by Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 in Eastern Visayas. MO 32, which is essentially an order of attacks against activists, covered Samar and Negros islands, and Bicol region. The group has associated the intensified militarization of peasant communities, including the aerial bombings of remote villages in Las Navas town, Northern Samar, mounting extra-judicial killings and human rights violations to the said issuance.
“We urge sectors in Metro Manila to join the call for the stop to militarization of peasant communities in Eastern Visayas and demand for justice for victims of rights abuses,” Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano, said in a press statement.

According to the Stand with Samar – Leyte Network, this year, there were:- twelve persons fell victims to extra-judicial killings, including ten elected officials and two activists;- mass evacuations due to military operations in San Jorge, San Jose de Buan and Calbiga towns in Western Samar affecting approximately 1,639 peasant residents and more than 300 in Las Navas and Lope de Vega towns in Northern Samar;- and the dropping of around 2,500-pounds of bombs by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Barangay Capotoan in Las Navas, Northern Samar last October 26. 

“We brand this as part of Duterte’s total war policy, crime against humanity and reprisal against the region’s resilient peasant movement who is triumphant in asserting rights to land and livelihood, and against land grabbing and displacement,” Soriano said. 

She added that the Duterte regime is grossly mistaken if it fantasized about repressing the “waray” peasants who have a legacy of resolutely fighting for basic rights and freedom.

“Eastern Visayas is one of the poorest region in the country, thus, the objective conditions of landlessness, exploitation and oppression brought about a strong peasant movement. No military option will solve this conflict, but only the realization of genuine agrarian reform and rural development,” she stressed.

Amihan urged various and democratic sectors to support the victims by joining Stand with Samar and Leyte Network activities and issuances of statements demanding protection of their basic rights and rights to land.

“Duterte is just adding more items on the list of his crimes against humanity. The people of Eastern Visayas does not forget these kinds of  transgressions. They struggle until those responsible are made accountable. We urge the people to stand with the people of Samar and Leyte,” she ended. ###

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