Manila, Philippines – “We call for justice for the brutal killing of Jennifer Tonag, a peasant women leader of Northern Samar who was active in defending land rights and demanding relief for victims of calamities,” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, National Chairperson of Amihan or National Federation of Peasant Women.
Tonag was 35 years old and an active member of Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA). She was a resident of Brgy. Sumuroy, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar, who was killed yesterday, January 17 by unidentified men in Northern Samar after attending a seminar conducted by the provincial interior and local government office. She was declared dead on arrival at the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital, with gunshot wounds on the head and chest.
Amihan blamed the brutality to President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance of the Memorandum Order 32 or the order to target activists in Samar, Negros and Bicol. Peasant and human rights groups in Eastern Visayas have long opposed the serial extra-judicial killings, aerial bombings and heavy militarization of rural communities, as the Duterte government categorized the Samar island as “hotbed of the New People’s Army.”
“Duterte’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan is a total war policy. It does not differentiate between the armed actors and members of legal and democratic organizations. It is a crime against humanity based on the International Humanitarian Law, thus, Duterte is a criminal against humanity and the Filipino people. We urge the people to rise up to scrap this heinous policy of gross violation of human rights and hold him accountable for his crimes,” she added.
She said that NSSFA was an active legal peasant organization that demanded relief for victims of typhoons and infestation on abaca crops in the past years, and aiding farmers who are facing land grabbing and displacement measures of big landlords in the province. They were targeted by the government’s armed forces sustained red-tagging campaign as initiated by Duterte’s Executive Order 70 or the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).
“The Duterte government accuses anyone who asserts the rights of the poor as NPA. It is intolerant of the legitimate grievances of the people,” she added.
Amihan and Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas – Karapatan stated that Tonag was the 32nd peasant woman victim of extra-judicial killing (EJK) under Duterte and the 35th victim under MO32 in the region.
Amihan hosted the peasant women leaders of NSSFA when they lobbied in Manila for the “Stop To Militarization Now!” campaign and during their “Stand with Samar” protest caravan.
“We urge that the extra-judicial killing of Tonag’s be documented by the Commission on Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, the UN Human Rights Council, as reference to Duterte’s crimes against humanity and bloody record of violating human rights,” she ended. ###