A day before the International Women’s Day, peasant women led by the Amihan (National Federation of Peasant Women), Rural Women Advocates (RUWA) and Gantala Press along with various women’s rights advocates gathered in front of the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City for a candle lighting demanding justice for peasant women human rights victims.

“Walang itinatangi ang pasistang panunupil ng gobyernong Duterte. Babae, lalaki o may piniling kasarian, bata man o matanda, basta’t lumalaban sa mga kontra-magsasaka at kontra-mamamayang polisiya ay biktima at target ng pampulitikang panunupil,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.

The peasant women group noted that under Duterte’s term, 247 farmers have been victims of extra-judicial killings, including 34 peasant women, 10 minors, at least 32 older persons and 9 farmer couples.

Jennifer Tonag, 35 years old and an active member of Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA) was killed by unidentified men on January 17 after attending a seminar conducted by the provincial and municipal government.

“Peasant women who are asserting their rights to land and livelihood are also victims of illegal arrests and detention, forced surrender, trumped-up charges and harassment and red-tagging but no one from the police and military were held accountable,” Soriano added.

“Intensified militarization of communities through the re-tooled Community Support Program Operations (CSPO) has resulted to the disruption of the farmers’ daily lives including the schooling of their children and their livelihood as well as their psychological well-being,” she said.

In Surigao del Sur, military units from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion indiscriminately fired at the houses of residents on February 21which resulted to injury of a 5-year-old Lumad child and two relatives. Lumad schools have been constantly targeted by state forces and agencies for forced closure.

Last month, forces from the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police have been accusing farmers in Sto. Niño, Cagayan as NPA supporters and threatening them to surrender their arms. The military forces have encamped in the school and limited the movement of the residents.

“These attacks on farmers and their communities are results of the “whole of nation” approach to counter-insurgency as issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on his Executive Order 70 which also formed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC),” Soriano said.

Soriano expressed alarm as the amendments to the Human Security Act is being railroaded in the Congress and has recently approved in the Senate.

“Higit pang lalala ang kaso ng pang-aabuso sa karapatan ng mamamayan lalo na ng mga magsasaka na walang ibang panghahawakan kundi ang sarili nilang lakas at pagkakaisa para igiit ang kanilang karapatan sa lupa at kabuhayan. Magsisilbi lamang ang batas na pantabing sa terorismo ng estado laban sa kanyang mamamayan,” Soriano added.

Peasant women from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog are set to join the protest tomorrow in Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola to fight for land, food and justice. ###

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