“To the peasant women, the Duterte government, its armed forces and attack agents, are the state terrorists.  Extrajudicial killings, bombings of peasant communities, forced evacuation illegal arrests, filing of trumped up charges, red-tagging, other forms of abuses, you name it, it has been carried out by the military and police.  These are forms of state terrorism.  The ‘terror bill’ will amplify these systematic attacks against peasants and peasant women,” Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson said in a press statement.

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women joined the broadening opposition against the “Anti-Terrorism Bill” or “Terror Bill” as branded by activist groups and condemned the Duterte government for its authoritarian push to railroad its legislation, amid facing the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The group claimed that it will further terrorize the people, especially the rural-based sectors, including the peasant women.  Moreover, it will trigger the escalation of human rights abuses and militarization in the countryside, as already being perpetrated by government armed forces.

She urged the people to resist into being silenced, and instead staunchly uphold human rights in the country.

“The proponents of this bill are now waging a ‘fake news’ campaign, claiming it will not target dissent or protests, this is amid peasant women are victims and witnesses of how government forces use existing laws to arrest activists.  Many peasant women are political prisoners, on top of the number of victims of extrajudicial killings,” she said.

Amihan has long been demanding for the freedom of political prisoners such as Felicidad Caparal, who was abducted in 2009, Azucena Garubat, arrested during the Negros ‘mass killings’ last year, Lindy Perocho, during the serial raids also in Negros in November last year.  The group is also calling for justice for Adelaida Macusang, a senior citizen who died in detention last month.  She was a peasant women leader of Montevista Farmer Association in Davao de Oro (Compostela Valley) arrested in 2018 and filed with trumped up charges.

Amihan joined the indignation protest at the University of the Philippines campus against the bill’s railroading at the House of Representatives yesterday.

“We speak for the peasant women victims of EJK and other human rights abuses.  The Duterte regime via its counter-insurgency programs, killed 35 peasant women, 10 children, 9 peasant couples and 33 elderlies.  By enacting the terror bill is worsening the already atrocious plight of rural-based sectors in the country,” she said.

The group also cited that days before the house joint committee approved the bill, a peasant leader of Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA), Allan Aguilando was killed in Catarman town.  He was a victim of red-tagging campaign by the military.  Yesterday, three farmers, including a minor, in Las Navas town, were apprehended by elements of the 803rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

In Central Luzon, red-tagging of progressive leaders such as peasant leader Joseph Canlas of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and fisherfolk leader Bobby Roldan of Pamalakaya Central Luzon are on full-swing.

“Let us uphold our human rights by calling for the junking of this terror bill.  Duterte and his lackeys must be held accountable in violating our freedom and democracy in the country, for carrying out anti-people and anti-peasant agenda, and this bill,” Soriano ended. ###

Photo by Philippine Collegian

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