Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women denounces the arrest yesterday, October 17, of Cristina Magistrado, former organizer of Amihan-Cagayan in her home in Binangonan, Rizal by PNP officers in civilian clothes. According to Taripnong Cagayan Valley, she has been taken to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan province to face trumped-up charges.

“Ang pag-aresto kay Cristina ay malinaw na pag-atake sa kababaihang magbubukid sa bansa,” decried Zenaida Soriano, National Chairperson of Amihan. “Sa halip na tulungan ang mga kababayan natin sa Norte na nasalanta ng Bagyong Maring, pinili ng gobyerno na pagkagastusan ang panreredtag at paglabag sa karapatang-pantao ng mga magsasaka!”

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has received a whopping Php 16.4 billion this year. Meanwhile, Typhoon Maring which pummeled the Philippines this Peasant Month has caused more than Php 1 billion in damages in the agriculture sector in the country, with Cagayan Valley suffering a loss of Php 117 million.

Magistrado is the latest in a long string of illegal arrests and filing of trumped-up charges that the Duterte government has launched in its anti-insurgency campaign that has either taken or destroyed the life of many community leaders and their families. As of September 2021, 340 farmers were killed, including forty-four (44) peasant women. Sixty-five (65) of the eighty-one (81) peasant women political prisoners were imprisoned under Duterte. Peasant women political prisoners, particularly pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly, suffer neglect and worsening health conditions in prisons, and sometimes death.

“Saan dadalhin ng militar si Cristina? Gusto ba nilang madagdagan lang ang mga kasong katulad ng kay Lindy Perocho na lumalala ang sakit sa loob ng preso dahil hindi makapagpagamot? O ni Adelaida Macusang na tuluyan nang namatay sa loob ng kulungan?” Soriano challenged.

As part of our Defend Peasant Women campaign, we called on for the immediate release of peasant women arrested or detained with non-bailable charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the usual case slapped on activists by state forces who conduct raids on homes and offices at strange hours and are usually accused of planting evidence. Many of these charges have been dismissed, but only after months or years of an activist’s incarceration. Some others were charged with rebellion and even of murder.

“Sa rehimeng Duterte, itigil niyo na ang pang-aatake sa kababaihang magbubukid! Sa halip na pangalagaan niyo ang ating food producers ay sinasalaula niyo sila at nilalagay sa mas lalong kapahamakan. Sa halip na buhayin niyo ang taumbayan ay pinapatay niyo kami,” Soriano ended. ###

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