Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

Thank you very much for supporting Gov. Grace Padaca!

(This is a repost)
Dear Friends,

After several emotional and stressful days following the release of the Commission on Elections’ resolution declaring Benjamin Dy as the winner of the 2007 Isabela gubernatorial race against incumbent Governor Grace Padaca, we can now take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief. The Dy camp’s motion for execution pending appeal was denied, allowing Gov. Padaca to continue as Isabela governor even as she appeals the COMELEC Second Division’s controversial decision.

In the course of five days, we, the friends and supporters of Gov. Padaca, have managed to raise funds for the publishing of a public statement declaring our support for her. The statement was signed by Filipinos from around the nation, including Isabelinos and overseas Filipinos. It was published in the Philippine Star last December 16, 2009 in a full page advertisement. A Tagalog version was also published in Abante the following day, December 17, 2009.

We also came out in support of Gov. Padaca on December 17 when hundreds of supporters from different groups held a peaceful rally in front of the Comelec office as the Second Division decided on the Dys’ motion for execution pending appeal. Among those who came were Gov. Padaca’s fellow Kaya Natin! Champion for Good Governance, Pampanga Gov. Ed “Among Ed” Panlilio, himself awaiting the COMELEC 2nd Division’s decision on the recount case in his province; Atty. Roberto “Bobby” Laurel, president of the Lyceum of the Philippines University where Gov. Padaca graduated as magna cum laude; Arch. Adonis Simpao, the official Liberal Party candidate going up against none other than Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Pampanga’s second congressional district; running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, and YouTube star Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change.

Since December 12, people had been generously giving various amounts to fund the publication of the statement and the rally through bank deposits and cash donations. Governor Padaca and the leaders of Kaya Natin! have always been a champion of transparency and accountability, and as such, we would like to practice what we preach. Below is the summary of the donations we have received from December 12-18, 2009 as well as the expenses we have incurred for this cause.

TOTAL DONATIONS: Php 325,218.50

EXPENSES: Php 204,686.75


Noise Barrage (Dec 14, ADMU Gate 2.5) 186.75

Tarps 3,500

COMELEC Rally 12,000

Philippine Star full page ad 151,000

Abante full page ad 38,000

CASH ON HAND (for future activities): Php 120,531.75

As of December 19, 2009, we have officially turned over the remaining funds to Governor Padaca, which she advises to keep on hand for future activities related to the case.

On behalf of Governor Grace Padaca, we would like to sincerely thank everyone for believing in the truth and in the integrity of Gov. Padaca, for donating to our fight, and for upholding the standards of good governance not just in Isabela but in the entire Philippines. We hope that you will continue to support Gov. Padaca and our other Champions of Good Governance and Ethical Leadership as we continue to fight the good fight in our country.

We pray that God will reward your generosity a hundredfold!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kaya Natin,

Kai Pastores

Harvey Keh

Public Statement of Support for Gov. Padaca

(this is a public statement from a group who believes that Gov. Grace Padaca is the Legitimate governor of Isabela)

By now, most of you will have known the situation that Isabela Governor Grace Padaca is in.. After beating fiercest opponent, former Gov. Benjamin Dy of the 40-year-old political dynasty, by more than 17,000 votes last 2007, she resumed her job of being Isabela's chief executive for a second term. Under her leadership, Isabelinos enjoyed more than five years of good governance.

However, early last week, the Commission on Elections Second Division with Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph decided that Gov. Padaca had in fact lost to Dy by a margin of 1,051 votes. They cited electoral fraud as the main reason, something that almost everyone finds hard to believe. Even evidence presented by the Dys is questionable and can still be rebutted by Padaca's camp.

On Monday, December 14, Gov. Padaca and her lawyers will file a motion for reconsideration at the Comelec office. Normally, the party being ousted can still assume the position he or she is in until the case goes to the Supreme Court and the final decision given. But Benjamin Dy has filed a motion for execution pending appeal, so that even while the case is being heard by the appropriate offices, Padaca needs to vacate the governorship and Dy can immediately assume the position.

The Comelec issued a 12,000-page resolution for Padaca's case. How much easier would it be to issue a one-page decision approving Dy's motion for execution pending appeal?

We need to let Commissioners Ferrer, Tagle, and Yusoph know that Filipinos will not tolerate corruption in an institution as significant as the Commission on Elections. They need to know that they cannot just side with anyone, but with the truth. If we make our voices heard, it will give them a chance to think about what they are going to do.

We will be releasing a public statement which anyone who agrees can support and sign. In order to create maximum impact, we are planning to publish the statement together with the names of the supporters in a major newspaper. We will need funds for this, and so we ask for people with good hearts who are willing to contribute any amount towards this cause. We plan to publish the statement below on December 16, giving us only a few days to raise the money. We would appreciate any and all assistance that we can get in ensuring that Gov. Padaca gets a fair decision.

Moreover, we will also be holding a peaceful rally on December 17 in front of the Comelec office, to show the Second Division that Filipinos are watching and standing guard for the truth, and to show support for the embattled Governor Padaca. Assembly time is 6:00 in the morning in front of the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila. Further details will be announced as the plans are smoothed out.

Below is the public statement that we need to publish. If you agree and want to sign the statement, kindly email your complete name, place of origin, and contact details to If you wish to contribute to have the statement published, you may send your donations to:

BPI Family Savings Bank
SA # 5976 2700 47
Acct Name: Karla Pastores


Bank of the Philippine Islands
SA # 3086 3883 46
Acct Name: Harvey Keh

Please fax the deposit slip to 02-4265657 or email a scanned copy to for proper accounting. Thank you very much and we hope you can help disseminate this!:)


We, democracy and freedom-loving Filipinos, fully stand by Isabela Governor Grace Padaca who we believe is the legitimate winner of the 2007 gubernatorial elections in the said province amid an unfair ruling by the Commission on Elections Second Division composed of Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph.

As fellow Filipinos, we believe that this resolution to unseat Governor Padaca in favor of former Governor Benjamin Dy is highly questionable and the evidence raised forth against Padaca raises significant doubt as to the validity of Dy’s claims of electoral fraud resulting to his loss.

The May 2007 elections saw Governor Padaca win by 17,007 votes over Benjamin Dy. Had Governor Padaca used dishonest means, this kind of margin will be next to impossible to pull off given that Padaca’s resources are scant and her political machinery nonexistent. If there is a candidate with a vast campaign fund and an organized machinery, it would most certainly be the Dy family who have been in power in Isabela for over forty years, until Padaca defeated them in the 2004 elections.

Governor Padaca has shown integrity as the highest government official of the province, not to mention efficiency and strong political will, all without dubious, illegal transactions. Her campaign against illegal logging in the Sierra Madre mountains has so far proven successful especially after Typhoon Pepeng hit Northern Luzon late this year. Her other programs have greatly benefited the people of Isabela, including health, education, good governance and electoral reforms.

In the past five and a half years that Governor Padaca has served as the local chief executive of Isabela, she has encountered numerous unnecessary problems, among them flagrant non-cooperation by some government offices with the provincial government leading to conflicts. These particular offices are not known to support Governor Padaca; however that does not give them an excuse to disregard common courtesy and protocol and fulfill their duties as required by law.

This should not be the case for any government official. Padaca won in 2007 via a clean and honest election and deserves to be treated as such. The Comelec’s resolution ousting Padaca is not the first attempt of her opponents at regaining control of Isabela. However, the people of Isabela themselves have shown that they have chosen Padaca to govern them for another term, and they, along with the rest of the Filipinos who believe in her and in justice, will not rest until the truth prevails.

We call on all supporters of Governor Padaca as well as Filipinos who believe in good governance to fight against corruption and injustice being done to a good Filipino leader. We believe that this issue is not confined solely to the borders of Isabela, but concerns all Filipinos. We cannot let this happen in Isabela inasmuch as we refuse to let it happen in our own provinces, cities, and municipalities. The fight here is between right and wrong, between good governance and corruption, between truth and falsehood. If we let this injustice happen, we will continue to be at the mercy of a corrupt system that seeks to destroy democratic institutions which were established to serve the needs of the people, not the interests of a selfish few. As citizens of the Philippines, we have the duty to preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions and hold accountable officials who fail to uphold the truth.

Let us not allow evil to triumph and together let us take a stand for the truth, for justice, and for good governance. The fight of Isabela is a fight of the entire Philippines.

Manifesto of Support for the Candidacy of Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas III as President and Vice President

Who would have thought it would take the death of a human being to bring about the rebirth of a nation? If this paradoxically sounds like the saga of Ninoy who sacrificed his life against a dictatorship, a new catalyst highlights the other dimensions of injustices and inequalities that systematically and continuously plague this country. Rejuvenated by the passing away of Ninoy's better half and venerated beacon of democracy, the people wage anew the fight against deplorable practices of traditional politics and the wanton corruption of democratic principles by enterprising breeds of greedy and self-serving politicians. Indeed, the spontaneous outpouring of grief during Cory’s wake and funeral cortege was more than just an expression of public condolence; in fact, this was a very strong statement of a national convalescence in search for change.

It was difficult not to take notice of this new wave of people power—of the wisdom of crowds clamoring for the restoration of genuine reforms in the socioeconomic and political climate across the archipelago. If the recent poll surveys are indications of smart choices, then we know who these crowds look up to.
We therefore welcome the declaration of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to run as President. In the same spirit, we also thank Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas, who gave way to extend his hand of unity with Noy and become his running mate as Vice President in the coming 2010 National Elections. We trust the duo best represents a team who shall heed and carry on the people’s aspirations for a better Philippines—dear motherland we have longed to see stand tall again, lifted back to her lofty position of respect and dignity she once enjoyed in Asia and the rest of the world.

We, the undersigned, therefore express our firm and wholehearted support for the Aquino-Roxas ticket, predicated upon mutual crusade and participation in the restoration and promotion of good governance, transparency, accountability, and honesty and integrity in government. As Mindanaons, we also stand behind a team who we believe will pursue the attainment of lasting peace, the promotion of development, and the care for the environment. Inured already as we are by cynicism of political promises, we remain fervent in our hope that these visions will not be regarded as mere motherhood statements but as categorical targets for reforms to bring back our trust and respect to the government.

Thus we enjoin everyone to rally their support behind the Noy-Mar tandem by making this forum the start of a people's campaign for genuine change in the sociopolitical landscape.

Done this 30th day of October 2009, in the City of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, the Philippines.



We, the sovereign peoples of Mindanao, call on the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives to immediately pass a joint resolution calling for a constitutional convention in 2010:

Whereas, there is a pervading sense of hopelessness and despair among the peoples of the Land of Promise arising from the unceasing armed conflict, poverty, internal displacement and political instability which perpetuate the culture of violence and intimidation;

Whereas, the situation calls for structural changes and reforms which can be made possible only through the amendment of the 1987 Constitution, as has been proposed nationwide by the Citizens' Movement for a Federal Philippines (CMFP).

Whereas, the peoples of Mindanao have traditionally viewed proposed amendments to the constitution with apathy, and even suspicion, believing them to be a Trojan horse for the perpetuation of political dynasties and their vested interests;

Whereas, the Lumad, the Bangsa Moro and Christians can realize their just desire for self-determination, for liberation from fear and want, for political stability, and autonomy through a Federal Constitution, which requires changes in the present charter;

Now, therefore, in consideration of the foregoing, we, the sovereign peoples of Mindanao now call on the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a joint resolution calling for the holding of a constitutional convention in 2010 and for the election of delegates in the national elections scheduled for May 11, 2010;

Resolved further, to let copies of this resolution be provided to the President of the Philippines, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Commission on Elections, and other pertinent organizations and agencies for their consideration.

Done this 24th day of July 2009 in the Islamic City of Marawi, Mindanao, Philippines.

Mindanao Congress of Development NGOs and NGIs (MINCON) • Lihok Pideral Mindanaw (LPM) • Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC) • MASS-SPECC Cooperative Development Center • Moro Movement for Federalism (MMF) • Citizens' Movement for a Federal Philippines (CMFP)

Rey Magno Teves, Chairperson, CMFP • Cong. Mujiv S. Hataman, Cong. Ariel C. Hernandez, Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party-List • Cong. Cresente C. Paez, Cong. Jose R. Ping-ay, NATCCO Party-List • Charlito Z. Manlupig, Secretary General, LPM • Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya, CEO, MASSSPECC • Romeo Dahuyag, PASCRES-Caraga • Andre Atega, Lihok Federal Karaga (LFK) • Greg Hontiveros, Lihok Federal Karaga (LFK) • Isidro Madaje, Chairman, FEDARCCO • Datu Hawudon Mangguyaba / Rusty S. Porogoy, Chairman, Manobo / Mamanwa – Santiago Municipal Tribal Council • Fiscal Danny Serrano, Drafter, Caraga State Constitution • Jimmy Beray, Chairman, BCB MPC • Atty. Franklin M. Quijano, Iligan City

Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) • Alliance of Bangsamoro for Peace and Sustainable Development (ABPSD) • Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) • Katilingbanong Pamahandi sa Mindanaw, Inc. (KPMFI) • Bangko sa Balay Foundation, Inc. (BBFI) • Zamboanga Peninsula Rehabilitation Center (ZAPP) • Zamboanga Association of Former Priests and Seminarians (ZAFPAS) • Xavier Agriculture Extension Service (XAES) • Harakat Islamia1 • Ompia Party • Lanao Youth • Lanao Eagle’s Clans • Insan Islamic Assembly • Pailig Development Foundation, Inc. (PDFI) • Technical Assistance Center for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor (TACDRUP) • Lihok Pideral Dabaw (LPD) • Philippine Agrarian Reform Fund (PARFUND)

Contact Persons: Mr. Rey Deang (CMFP-Secretariat) 09266854561
Mr. Paul Paraguya (CMFP-Mindanao) 09209525106
Mr. Cesar Villanueva (CMFP-Visayas) 09192869470

Military operations displace 281 families in Surigao del Sur

Massive military operations have forced the evacuation of 281 families with 1,659 individuals from 14 communities in the municipalities of Lianga and San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Students and staff from the Alternative Learning System for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur have also been forced to evacuate. Classes have been suspended.

Two battalions from the 36th and 58th brigades of the Philippine Army arrived in Lianga and San Agustin on July 13 and have been living inside the communities of Kilometer 16 and Han-ayan. In Kilometer 9, they are even staying inside people’s houses.

ALCADEV teacher Jerume Loquite was prevented from bringing four sacks of rice to the ALCADEV students. The commanding officer at the Sammilia checkpoint, Col. Pedralves, told him that he did not believe that there were any students at the school.

People of the community called for a dialogue with the military in order to appeal for peace and to ask the military to leave the area. But the military refused to leave. They said that they were part of a research team for peace and development that had come to evaluate communities for possible projects.

As a result, the community decided to leave their villages if the military insisted on staying. They did not want to get caught in military operations. Together with ALCADEV and TRIFPSS students and staff, they walked for seven hours from Han-ayan to the municipal gym in Lianga. They joined 48 families from the community of Logdeck, who have been displaced for a month as a result of military operations in their area.

This is the third time in five years that an evacuation has occurred. There were previous evacuations in 2005 and 2007. Militarization is a perennial problem in the area. When soldiers enter a community and visit people’s houses, the people become too scared to farm. There is also forced recruitment of the lumads into bagani force as part of the province-wide Task Force Gantangan.

The evacuees say that they need food, and eventually, medicine, if the evacuation continues to last. Water supplies are low and there is a lack of latrines. There are no beds and some people do not even have mats to lie on.

“The military should respect our culture and recognize our efforts at building a sustainable and secure economy,” says Jose* a member of the organization Malahutayong Pagkibisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).

After every evacuation, the people must start their livelihoods again. As a result, there is little development.

MAPASU member Jean* says that if the military insists on working in the mountain communities, they should not operate in the communities but in the mountains. Community members add that the military should stop forcing lumads to join the bagani force.

All of the evacuees hope to return home soon.

*Names have been changed to protect the people’s identities

Prepared by:
Research and Documentation Desk
Social Action Center, Diocese of Tandag

Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Death

by J. E. Gonzales / AKBAYAN

It has been almost forty days since our subdued sense of victory over the passage of the CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bills in both the Senate and the House of Representative was overcome by the shock, grief and anger over the meaningless murder of Ka Rene Peñas. It was a victory that Ka Rene was waiting to celebrate after a protracted and uphill struggle within and outside the halls of Congress. It was a victory that was almost stolen from those who have labored and sacrifice for CARPER by the bullets that riddled Nong Rene’s body,

Nong Rene’s journey towards this victory was long and full of hardships and frustrations. The land titles to the 144-hectares land in San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon was supposed to give Nong Rene and the Sumilao farmers new hope of a better life. The case of the Sumilao farmers was a simple one but because justice was caught in the claws of the rich, the titles that were awarded to them became the key of over twelve years of struggle for the land that they reclaimed.

It would have been easy for them to give up and live the life that they were accustomed to all their as landless farmers scratching a living out of the shoulders of the highway in San Vicente. But they chose to cling on to hope and fight for what is just and what is right. Hence their case was transformed from one that is simple into an epic struggle that led to 28 days of hunger strike, countless days and nights of sleeping in the streets of Manila knocking at the hearts of the Supreme Court justices, countless tears falling from the frustration and despair over a justice system biased against the poor.

It led to the epic 1,700-kilometer walk of the Sumilao farmers that won the hearts of even ordinary people, the religious and the young. It has put tremendous pressure on those in power and the corporate giant San Miguel Corporation. The story of the struggle of the Sumilao farmers made it to the history books and is carved in the hearts of those, like us, who witnessed their courage, perseverance and their faith in active non-violence. This epic struggle did not only end in reclaiming of the land of the Sumilao farmers, it made farmer leaders like Nong Rene look beyond the barbed fences of the 144-hectare land that they are reclaiming and see the struggles of other farmers beyond the confines of their claim. Their hardships and sacrifices made Nong Rene realize that the cause of agrarian reform is far larger than their own struggle and did not end when they eventually broke down the fences and when he held the soil in the palm of his hands. It deepened Nong Rene’s understanding of agrarian reform and steeled his conviction to fight on not only for their own land but to join the struggles of others.

Hence, Nong Rene led the 444-kilometer march of the Banasi farmers of Bula, Camarines Sur in December 2008. It also led the Sumilao farmers to support the struggles of other farmers like the Calatagan farmers of Batangas. It brought Sumilao leaders like Nong Rene and Yo-yoing Mirada into the center of the struggle for the reform and extension of CARP together with other farmers groups and agrarian reform advocates. Ka Rene and the Sumilao farmers, together with other farmers from the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) and the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK) and agrarian reform advocates from the Reform CARP Movement (RCM) launched the Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Hinarang Farmers’ Pilgrimage for CARPER which began in Sumilao and retraced the steps of the Sumilao farmers’ walk to Manila. They stayed on to campaign for CARPER even through the sine die recess of Congress, moving from school to school, walking to different parishes and urban communities in Metro Manila. They spoke to mayors and councilors, barangay officials, student leaders, parish priests and parish councils. They met with leaders of different religious groups to bishops and ordinary church-goers alike.

When Congress resumes its sessions, they were constantly present in the gallery pr outside the gates urging legislators to resume the debates on CARPER. When Congress delayed the deliberation on CARPER, together with other farmers from RCM, they held a sit-down strike in the House of Representatives. When the House refused them entry they held vigils outside its gate. They never wavered; they never let the pressure slacken despite being driven away by water cannons and riot police. They prayed and they chanted and they never gave up. Nong Rene was in the midst of all these. Encouraging and inspiring others, reassuring those who shake in fear at the sight of the helmeted policemen armed with riot shields and truncheons. Nong Rene was a constant presence in the frontlines. One of his final acts in Congress was to attempt to set up a camp outside the South Gate. Despite being warned that dispersal was a certainty, he did not budge. The camp he led to build was immediately dismantled by riot police using truncheons and water cannon. He did not give up, the farmers held vigil at the gate without the tents armed with just prayers and rosaries and their strong faith.

Nong Rene learned about the passage of HB 4077 in the House of Representatives in Sumilao. He had to return home on May 30 to attend the session of the Barangay Council as a caraway. Upon hearing the news he triumphantly announced to his family and fellow farmers: Nidaug na ta! (We have won!). Two days later, he was shot to death.

On July 14, 2009 we will commemorate the 40th day of Nong Rene’s death. Join us in remembering Ka Rene and in celebrating his life and our victory in the struggle to pass the CARP Extension with Reforms. Be one with us in a tribute and celebration:

Buhay, Paglalakbay at Tagumpay: Isang Pagdiriwang at Pagpupugay na
Alay para kay Nong Rene Peñas
July 14, 2009 / 9:00 – 11am
Ateneo de Manila College Chapel, Gonzaga Building
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Hts., Quezon City

To this day, the murder of Nong Rene remains an unsolved mystery. As in other murders of peasant leaders, perhaps we may never get to know the truth. The cowards responsible for his death may never be uncovered. As we push on in search of the truth and justice one thing is certain: In life Nong Rene was a valiant, brilliant and courageous peasant leader who struggled for the land of the Sumilao farmers and other farmers, an imposing figure in the struggle for the reform and extension of CARP; in death Ka Rene has become an icon of the continuing struggle for agrarian reform.

As we have snatched CARPER from the claws of defeat, let us snatch victory from the jaws of death. Let us mourn his death but celebrate his life and our victories.

Fact-finding on Rene's Assasination

06 June 2009


a. Narration of Evangeline Peñas, Noland Peñas and Gerry Merida

At around 11:30 am, we arrived at the residence of Manong Rene Peñas situated along the national highway in Barangay, San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon, where we met his family. We talked to his wife Evangeline, his son Noland, and his nephew Gerry Merida.

In the course of our interview with them, they narrated that Manong Rene and his two other companions (Elizer Peñas and Samson Dollete) were ambushed at around 11:45 pm while they were on their way to the farm to take Mr. Dollete to his house which is situated just near Nong Rene’s farm.

We were also informed that in the morning of June 5, 2009, Manong Rene attended the barangay committee hearing on the amendments of barangay ordinances held in the barangay hall. Together with other barangay officials, he took his lunch at the barangay elementary school where the teachers were having a “despedida” party for their fellow teacher who was leaving the school and at the same time a welcome to the teacher replacing her.

At around 3:00 pm, he went home to get dressed to go to Kisolon to buy poultry feeds and supply of rice for the family. He brought the feeds to his farm house. Noland said that he was at the farm house when Rene arrived there. Noland also narrated that from the farm house, he proceeded to the store of Neneng where he drank Tanduay with Elizer Peñas and Samson Dollete at around 5-6pm.

b. Narration of Elizer Peñas

Elizer recounted that Nong Rene invited him for a drink and while on their way to the store, they met Samson. Samson obliged Manong Rene’s invitation to join them.

At around 7:00 in the evening, Rene, together with Elizer went home to continue their drinking session while Samson already went home. Rene and Elizer left the house at around 9:00 pm and fetched Samson from his house. They proceeded by motorcycle to the Impasugong poblacion but along the way, they stopped at the gasoline station in Kisolon for a gasoline refill. While at the gasoline station, they met Richard Cainoy and Eusebio Ubal-ubal aka Boyong who also had their own motorcycle and were planning to go to Impasug-ong tourism area for a drink as well. Rene, Samson and Elizer went to the Impasug-ong tourism area and Cainoy and Boyong followed.

Elizer said that while they were drinking, two unidentified women and a man arrived and sat at another table next to them and also drank. Nong Rene warned them that the three were “CIs” (or spying on them). They, however, did not take Rene’s warning seriously.

At around 11:00 pm, they decided to go home. Cainoy and Boyong rode on their motorcycle, while Elizer and Samson went with Nong Rene. Nong Rene was driving the motorcycle, Elizer sat in the middle, and Samson sat on the rear.

Upon reaching Barangay San Vicente, they decided to take the road beside the retention area of Carlos Estate. According to Elizer, they usually take that road when going to the farm as they could not pass the other road that passes near the Freedom Hall (the building being used by the Sumilao farmers as their office and meeting area).

When they were around 500 meters from the highway (where there were already no more houses and the area was dark as there were no street lights) Rene had to slow down because that section of the road was slippery and muddy. To the left side of the road was a corn field and there are bamboo trees to the right.

Elizer recounted that as the motorcycle slowed down he saw sparks and heard gunshots. He was not able to see the assailant because the area was very dark. They did not realize that they were already hit on the first shot. They only realized that they were being ambushed. Their motorcycle crashed to the ground on the second shot. They heard Rene say “Noy sibat namo kay nasamdan ko, patay ko ani” (Noy you have to flee. I am hit and I may die.) It was at this time that Elizer said that he felt something hot on his right arm.

Elizer said that he heard three (3) gunshots. He saw Samsom backtrack towards the highway while he crawled to the right side of the road. He did not look back. He said he then ran for his life and went to Rene’s house along the highway.

Elizer also said that a relative of Nong Rene went to the police station to report the incident. But the police did not immediately respond. They had to carry Elizer to the police station to prove that the report was true. It was only during that time that the police were prompted to respond.

At around 2:00 am, Samson arrived in the house behind Rene’s house. He sustained gunshot wounds on his right foot (shin) and left ankle. These wounds might have been the reason why it took him two (2) hours to reach the sitio. Elizer, on the other hand, sustained a gunshot wound on his right arm. He believes that the bullet hit and pierced through Rene’s first before it hit him. Rene sustained 8 gunshot wounds scattered on his right chest and right arm. And there were three exit wounds on his back.

According to Noland, a certain Alex Abragan noticed two persons running past their house towards Kulaman river. We were not, however, able to personally talk to Alex. But his wife confirmed that they indeed hear an undetermined number of persons running past their house moments after they heard the gunshots. The house of Alex Abragan is around 500 meters from the crime scene.

At around 3:00 am, the police investigated the incident. They were able to talk to Elizer and Samson, but the two were not able to mention the assailant/s. Thereafter, Elizer and Samson were brought to the old Bukidnon Provincial Hospital at Malaybalay city. Later however, Samson was discharged and was brought to a safe house at Kisolon. Elizer on the other hand was transferred at the New Bukidnon Provincial Hospital, Casisang Malaybalay City.

c. Narration of Alipio Tumangdang

At around 12:00 noon, we went to the Sumilao Municipal Police Station upon receiving information PJ De la Peña of ABS-CBN that a suspect is already in the custody of the Sumilao Police.

At the Sumilao Municipal Police Station, we were able to secure a police spot report. We were also able to interview the suspect, Mr. Alipio Tumangdang. From him we were able to obtain the following information:

• He denied the charges against him. He said that he was in his house the whole day attending to his farm. His house is situated just around 400 meters away from the crime scene at the left side of the road (if one is facing Kulaman river).
• He said that at the time of the incident, he heard a male voice calling for help (“tabang”), but was not able to respond out of fear. He, however, said that he did not hear any gunshot because he was fast asleep. It was his wife who woke him up after hearing gunshots.
• He further said that after taking breakfast, he then went to his relative in Brgy. Maluko, Manolo Fortich to construct a fish pond for tilapia. It was here where the police from Sumilao arrived and arrested him. He was brought to the Sumilao Police Station. He also said that the police told him that he was identified by Mr. Samson as the assailant. Mr. Samson, according to him, was a friend, but that they seldom meet recently.
• He said that he knew Rene as a kagawad of their barangay; that he holds no grudge or had any quarrel with Rene.
• He admitted that he is not the owner of the lot he is occupying and that he was able to cultivate the piece of land with permission from MARO (Edrolin) and Chief Bade, then the Municipal Chief of Police of Sumilao.
• He also said that he was the one who let Samson Dollete cultivate a portion of that area.
• The area that he is now cultivating is part of the 19 hectares that was awarded to a group of beneficiaries. Some of these beneficiaries are now reclaiming the area including the one that he cultivates. Because of this, a case of qualified theft was filed against him and is now pending at the provincial prosecutor’s office of Bukidnon. On his part, he filed a case against these beneficiaries before the DARAB, and his counsel is Atty. Cayatuna, a DAR lawyer.
• He said the he had not held any gun before.
• He also said that he once worked with Mayor Baula as farmworker.

During our short conversation with the police, they told us that Samson positively identified Mr. Alipio Tumandang as the assailant. Samson is allegedly being incommunicado in a safehouse which prevented the fact-finding team to interview him and verify what the police claimed that he positively identified the suspect as the gunman who shot and killed Rene and injured his companions. And according to the police, Samson was being transferred from one safe house to another.

The spot report contained suspicious facts:
• It reported that the police recovered 4 empty shells of shotgun (when only 3 gunshots were heard);
• That there were three assailants with one being held in custody and the other two still scot-free;
• That the victim, Rene Penas, “suffered gunshot wounds at the left shoulder and left chest that resulted to his instantaneous death…” This is not true because Mr. Rene Penas suffered gunshot wounds on his right arm and right chest.

Questions in the results of the fact-finding raise:

1. On the theory that Rene was killed because of his involvement in the land dispute involving a 19-hectare landholding between the group of his companion, Samson Dollete and the group of the suspect, Alipio Tumangdang

• Why did Alipio not target Samson since he was his direct opponent in the land dispute? Why kill Rene only?
• Why did the suspect have to wait in ambush in the middle of the night in order to kill Rene when he could have easily killed him since they are next door neighbors?
• How could the suspect have accurately targeted Rene? How could he have known Rene was driving the motorcycle in pitch darkness?

2. On exploring other possible suspects who have motives to kill Rene

a. 94-hectare land balance of the 144-hectare commitment of San Miguel and Rene’s active involvement in the campaign for CARPER

• If the reason why Rene was killed is his involvement in land dispute cases, why single out the dispute in the 19-hectare landholding?
• Is Rene not involved in other land cases? Why not consider the continuing dispute in the 94 hectare balance (of the 144 hectares) which is supposed to be acquired by San Miguel Corporation for distribution to the Sumilao farmers? Why not consider the possible motives of people involved in this case (e.g the Baulas who have leased the 94 hectares to Del Monte instead of distributing the lands to the farmers in fulfillment of San Miguel’s commitment to the Sumilao farmers)?
• Why not consider the possible motives of those who were threatened by the active advocacy of the Sumilao farmers led by Rene for the resolution of the 144 hectares that caused the continued pursuit for the enactment of the CARPER law? Why not consider the active involvement of Rene who led the Sumilao march to Manila and the Banasi farmers in their land claim? Why not consider the threat that if the CARPER law is enacted, many landholdings will be subjected to CARP?

b. Series of unresolved killings of PAKISAMA peasant leaders in Mindanao in the last 7 months

• On November 22, 2008 PAKISAMA National Vice-Chairperson Vicente Paglinawan was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in Davao City
• On March 9, 2009, Boy Billames, Secretary General of SAMATIKU – an affiliate of PAKISAMA in South Cotabato - was gunned down by a hooded gunman.
• Ka Rene is the current National Vice-Chairperson of PAKISAMA

3. Based on the testimonies above, there are other possibilities:

• If Rene’s suspicion that they are being spied upon, which he articulated to his companions, was accurate, does it not indicate that there were several persons involved in the murder? Does this not indicate that the killing was planned, coordinated, premeditated, and orchestrated
• Considering the darkness, how could the assailant/s know that that it was Manong Rene’s motorcycle that was approaching. Surely, there were other motorcycles which also passed by the road.
• Is it not possible that the persons Rene suspected to by spying on them at the Impasug-ong tourism area were the lookout for the gunman waiting in ambush? Does this not answer the question why the gunman knew the exact moment Rene and his companions will pass in that particular section of the road? Does this not answer the question why the gunman knew that Rene was the one driving the motorcycle and thus allow him to target Rene more accurately?
• How did the police conclude, in their spot report, that there were three assailants?
• Do these not indicate a more sophisticated scheme of ambushing Rene and his companions, which will also raise the possibility of this ambush being a professional hit especially that despite the darkness, the hitman shot Rene on a fatal part of his body with just three gunshots and that the place of the crime was deliberately selected for ambush? Does this likewise raise the inference that the choice of the shotgun as the weapon was deliberate?

4. On the haste being displayed by the police in “solving” or “closing” the case

• Why is Samson Dollete being held incommunicado?
• Why is the police zeroing-in on the “personal grudge” angle and disregarding other possible angles?
• Why did not the police respond immediately after they were informed that there was an ambush. Why did the relatives of Elizer Penas have to carry him to the Municipal Police Station to prove that there was indeed an ambush, and it was only on that occasion that they responded?


by Atty Kaka J. Bag-ao

Nong Rene: farmer-paralegal...52 years old, born on March 14, 1957,
a father of four children, grandfather of two-month old infant

Ka Rene was a firm believer and advocate for farmers rights and agrarian reform. However, even in the most desperate moments of Ka Rene’s struggle to reclaim their land in Sumilao, Bukidnon, not once did he consider violence. Even when he stood face-to-face with the armed goons of their rich landlord he never considered lifting a finger in retaliation and meet violence with violence. Instead Ka Rene opted to take active non-violent means even if these meant making painful and difficult sacrifices such as the 28-day hunger strike in 1997 and the 1,700-kilometer walk from Sumilao to Manila in 2007. No murder is ever justifiable. But to kill a man who is a staunch advocate of peaceful means to protect and push for the rights of peasants, one who has never lifted a finger to hurt anyone, makes his murder ruthless, senseless and brutal. Ka Rene, a man of peace was shot with a shotgun at around 11pm while he, together with two companions were on their way home on June 5, 2009. He sustained 11 gunshot wounds – 3 in his chest and 8 all over his arms.

Ka Rene is a farmer leader and paralegal of the Sumilao farmers. He began as a very quiet person then but through the years of struggle and formation he was transformed into a passionate peasant leader with deeply rooted principles and vision. Ka Rene’s active involvement in local and national peasant struggles led him to become the chairperson of PALAMBU, a provincial farmer federation in Bukdinon, and vice -chairperson of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA).

He was one of the pioneer leaders of the MAPALAD farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon who has staged hunger strike for 28 days in 1997 to protest the conversion of the agricultural land awarded to them through Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Ten (10) years after the hunger strike, together with the second generation Sumilao farmers, In October 2007 Ka Rene led the Sumilao Marchers in their 1,700-kilometer “Walk for land, Walk for Justice" from Sumilao to Malacañang to reclaim the 144-hectares of agricultural land from San Miguel Corporation. There was never a time when Ka Rene hesitated to take the lead in the campaign to reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs. For years, Ka Rene Peñas together with farmer groups in Mindanao and in the Philippines lived a life struggling and fighting for agrarian reform and social justice not only for their own lands but those of other farmers as well. Their triumph in reclaiming their 144-hectare land did not stop him from becoming actively involved in the struggles of others and in the struggle to push for CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER).

Undeniably, Ka Rene’s murder cannot be separated from the life he chose - that of fighting for the rights of the powerless and the poor like himself that put him at loggerheads with the interests of rich and the powerful. The cowardly act of violence he suffered is undeniably linked to his courageous struggle that threatened the interests of the wealthy and the mighty. Even on the hour of his death Ka Rene’s concern was the safety of his companions. colleague and stated “Lakaw namo kay kamatyonon nako” (Now, you must go and leave me, I am dying…) were his last words.

BALAOD Mindanaw and the peasant community will not be stunned by this brutal act that seeks to sow fear in our hearts. On the contrary, Ka Rene’s brutal death will inspire us emulate his courage and spirit of self-sacrifice. It will only fuel the fire in our hearts to continue with the struggle that we have shared with Ka Rene.

PEACE in Mindanaw Academy (PMA)

First Privilege Speech of Rep. Ariel C. Hernandez
May 18, 2009, House of Representatives

Mr. Speaker, Maayong Hapon! Maayad na hapon! Assalamu Alaikum! Peace be with you all!

First, let me express my personal gratitude for the warm welcome you bestowed upon us when we took our oath as new legislators in the house of the people. As the newly installed representative of our party Anak Mindanaw, I have been given the opportunity to join this august body that defines the future of this country. Thus, I would like to maximize my time and humble expertise to bring about long term and sustainable programs for our beloved yet troubled region of Mindanaw.

Anak Mindanaw would like to call on this house of the people not to forget the aspiration, dreams and fears of the tri-people of Mindanaw. In the heated discussion in the plenary on urgent bills of Charter Change, CARPER and other bills, I would like to put on record that Anak Mindanaw would like to introduce a legislation that will highlight the role of Mindanaw as a center of gravity of all peacebuilding initiatives of the country and even of the Asian region. Whereas before and even up to now, Mindanaw has been highlighted by the national and international press because of its mismanaged conflicts that resulted to wars every two to three years, terroristic activities every now and then, not to mention kidnappings that put the island in a very bad light … Anak Mindanaw is committed to proactively change this national and international perception, not by propaganda but by hard work and by running meaningful and relevant programs for the tripeople of Mindanaw.

Specifically, Mr. Speaker, this humble representation, molded by the institutional wisdom of Balay Mindanaw, which has been actively working for peace in Mindanaw these past years, and guided by Cong. Mujiv Hataman, is proposing for the establishment of Peace in Mindanaw Academy (PMA). If war and unpeace have dominated the picture of our beloved island over the last 5 decades, Anak Mindanaw believes that by setting up a PMA, our beloved region of Mindanaw will be known as the center of gravity of all peace education and peace building initiatives not only in Mindanaw and in the country but also in the Asian Region. While Anak Mindanaw acknowledges and supports the ongoing peace processes that tackle historical injustice, political marginalization and economic disparity, Anak Mindanaw adopts the new parallel mindset of the party that aims to set up institutions that are proactive, sustainable and, most of all, owned by stakeholders of peace in Mindanaw, in the country and in the Asian region. We need not wait for peace negotiations to arrive at political settlement and signed peace agreements. We can set up institutions like PMA to strengthen and maybe hasten the ongoing peace processes in Mindanaw, in the country and in the Asian Region, by a combination of academic inputs, field-based learning and community-based initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, the PMA will have the following distinct characteristics:

1. It will be a premiere education center for peace in the country and the Asian region. I specifically highlight the Asian Region as the bigger arena of Peace in Mindanaw Academy because of the ongoing mismanaged conflicts in the region, namely, Sri Lanka, parts of Indonesia, and East Timor. Rather than seeking help from these countries, we might even be able to provide help for them.

2. The curriculum and education program will be designed by CHED, OPAPP, Defense Department, the civil society, and the Church, which are all actively involved in Peacebuilding in Mindanaw, in the country and the Asian region.

3. The target clientele of the academy will be the state and non-state security sector, the local government units, the business sector, the different churches and denominations and the civil society and the lawmakers from Mindanaw, the Philippines and the Asian region.

4. The PMA is envisioned to offer full courses on conflict management and peacebuilding, peace negotiations, transitional and restorative justice and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR).

Mr. Speaker, with your support, and with the support of the members of this house, the PMA will usher a new dawn for Peacebuilding in Mindanaw. I have great faith in the constituency of the house of the people; the state and non-state combatants; the LGUs which do not anymore see conflicts as things to avoid but rather as an integral challenge for local development; the Church, which brings peace building into action rather than as mere words spoken in the pulpit; the academe, which has transcended the four walls of the schools; and the national and international peace constituency.

This proposal will remain relevant in the years to come and this 14th Congress will proudly look at this institution as a source of pride for Mindanawans, Filipinos and Asians alike.

Daghan salamat Mr. Speaker…


Joint Resolution No. 19, which extends the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program but without providing for compulsory acquisition, expires on June 30. On June 5, however, the second regular session of Congress will end, resuming only on the first week of July. This means that despite months of campaigning and lobbying for a struggle that has spanned decades, and because of the indifference or neglect of our representatives in Congress, we are again in the eleventh hour, with only nine session days left to pass a law that is not only constitutionality mandated, but is required by basic notions of equity and social justice.

The implementation of an agrarian reform program is a Constitutional mandate which the State may not avoid by legislative inaction. Section 4, Art. XIII of the 1987 Constitution requires the State to “undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof.” As it is, Joint Resolution No. 19 is unconstitutional for being contrary to the very spirit of agrarian reform. If Congress again fails to pass an agrarian reform law by June 5, it will be nothing short of a dereliction of a duty reposed on the legislative body by our Constitution.

The CARP has been in existence for 20 years, but the fruits of authentic agrarian reform in the country have yet to be reaped. 80% of privately owned agricultural lands remain undistributed. 18% of CARP beneficiaries have not received titles to the lands that they till and should rightfully own. 65% of CARP beneficiaries have no access to government support services that should be available in agrarian reform areas. Rural poverty still accounts for 70% of the country’s poor. If we are to attain social justice eloquently defined by Justice Jose P. Laurel in Calalang vs. Williams as “…the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State…” then agrarian reform is a measure that must not only be continued, but must be among those prioritized.

The Philippine’s agrarian reform program needs to be given more time to fully attain the goals it was created to accomplish. Twenty years of unsatisfactory implementation clearly leaves much room for improvement and reform. House Bill 4077 and Senate Bill 2666, or the CARP Extension with Reforms Bill, reflect the needed changes to address the shortcomings that have prevented the law’s noble purpose from coming into fruition.

We, who study the law, know that laws are there for a reason. Agrarian reform is explicitly identified as a fundamental State policy in Art II Sec 21 of the Constitution. Thus, we ask that our lawmakers breathe life into this policy by enacting laws that set in motion and ensure actual and speedy results.

We, who study the law, know that while the actual provisions are drafted by the members of Congress, laws are ultimately articulations of the people’s will and expressions of the power inherent in them as citizens of a free country. Thus, we remind our lawmakers that their mandate emanates from the people, and their duty is to address their constituents’ needs, even if it means sacrificing their own interests. We reiterate that by eliminating compulsory acquisition, the agrarian reform program is reduced to no more than an empty promise. Without it, there is no reform, only more of the same.

We, who study the law, are no strangers to policies that look resolute on paper, but are torn apart and rendered useless by the selfsame provisions, where motherhood statements mask gaps, loopholes and false pretenses. Thus, we demand that Congress deliver an agrarian reform program that is responsive, sincere and faithful to the principles of social justice.
The second regular session of Congress ends in less than a month. Too much has been lost, too much sacrificed and there is too much at stake for our legislature to fail us now. We take up this cause because we, who study the law, owe it to this country. We owe it to the farmers who walked thousands of miles, and spent weeks in hunger strikes, asking to be heard. We owe it to the blood shed and lives lost. We owe it to the law that we study and pledge to serve. Because if the law cannot be used to protect those who need it the most, then it betrays its own purpose.


Student Council
Ateneo Law School
Makati City, Metro Manila

Supreme Law Council
College of Law
Silliman University
Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros

Student Council
College of Law
University of Baguio
Baguio City, Benguet

Civil Law Student Council
College of Law
University of Santo Tomas
Manila City, Metro Manila

Law Student Government
College of Law
University of the Philippines
Quezon City, Metro Manila

No More Broken Promises, No More Delays PASS CARPER NOW

(This Manifesto was given by the new party-list representatives during a press conference in Congress last May 5, 2009)

For over a year now, we have witnessed the struggle of the farmers and agrarian reform advocates in pushing for the enactment of the CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER) in Congress. We have shared their joy when HB 4077 and SB 2666 were finally reported out in the respective plenary sessions of both houses of Congress and when CARP extension with reforms was declared a priority legislation by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as early as June last year.

We have witnessed how the leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate promised to enact the law before Congress went on recess last June 2008. We have shared the dismay and anger of the farmers when Congress only managed to make another promise to pass the law before the end of December 2008. The failure of Congress to enact the CARP extension law last June 2008 has virtually put agrarian reform implementation on a stand still as the Department of Agrarian Reform dragged its feet and preferred to play safe for fear of legal suits from the big landowners should they pursue agrarian reform implementation sans an extension law.

We have also witnessed how Congress once again dragged its feet and succumbed to the whims and caprices of the landlord bloc and broke its promise last December 2008. Despite the hunger strike of more than 50 farmers which was joined by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and several other bishops, Congress allowed itself to be held hostage by the landlord bloc and managed only to pass Joint Resolution No. 19 which purportedly extends CARP until June this year but removed the compulsory acquisition mode of land acquisition and distribution. The Joint Resolution did not help the farmers any, it only gave the Department of Agrarian Reform a convenient alibi to extend the halt in agrarian reform implementation.

Once again, promises of passing HB 4077 and SB 2666 and to restore the compulsory acquisition mode before June 5, 2009 have been hurled left and right by Malacañang, the Senate and the leadership of the House of Representatives. Technical working groups were created by both chambers to address the queries and iron out the issues on the CARPER bills. Both TWGs have already finished their reports. The House of Representatives has done its part of the bargain. What remains to be done is the crux of legislation and that is to pass House Bill 4077 into law.

However, here in the House of Representatives, we are yet to see signs that the House will make good of its promise. While the House has spent precious time discussing HB 737, which proposes to allow foreigners to own land in the Philippines, it has not spent a single second in pursuing the deliberations on the CARP extension with reforms bill (HB 4077).

As newly proclaimed party-list representatives, we will not be able to serve our full terms. With so little time remaining in our hands, we want to spend whatever precious time we have as members of the 14th Congress by pushing for the most critical pieces of reform legislation.

Today, as one of our first acts as members of the House Representatives, we will sign as co-author of HB4077, the CARP Extension with Reforms bill. With this act, we will join Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Agrarian Reform Committee chairperson Rep. Elias Bulut and AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros in taking the cudgels for CARP extension with Reforms. As new co-authors of the CARPER bill, we call on the House leadership to begin fulfilling its promises to the people especially to the millions of farmers and resume the deliberations on CARP extension with reforms.

Time is running out on Congress. From today, we barely have fourteen (14) more session days before the Congress’ self-imposed deadline for enacting HB 4077. We cannot afford nor tolerate any more delays. We cannot afford any more broken promises.








Twenty women in TamilNadu have undertaken the strongest form of struggle -‘Fasting Unto Death’ for the past 10 days demanding Soniaji to stop the War in Srilanka and Stop Genocide of Tamil people. The condition of five women who are under fast are very critical .

In Sri Lanka , Everyday around 200 to 300 Tamil civilians are brutally killed and thousands are gravely injured by the pouring down of gruesome cluster bombs, chemical bombs and poison gas bombs both at war zones and government announced safety zones. Thousands of melted and charred bodies remain as strong witness of usage of such bombs. Most of the victims are women and small children.

When international agencies and press are evacuated from the country, whatever information we get is only a small portion of reality. From the news we receive everyday, we are shocked to know that in the recent past atleast 60,000 people have been massacred and 3,00,000 people face death everyday.

Close allies of the Sri Lankan Government has revealed Mr. Rajapakse’s plan of annihilating the lakhs of remaining Tamil people within days using the Indian election fever. The congress central government headed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi extends all possible supports including army, ammunitions and funds to Srilankan President Mr. Rajapakse’s motive of annihilating the entire Tamil Population. The parties in Tamil Nadu that were making noise for the innocent Tamil civilians have also jumped into election and many treacherously align with the congress.

The media was revealing very little of the grave situation at Srilanka found excuse to defocus people attention to election.

At this juncture, the women’s organisations in the state of Tamil Nadu, who are protesting in their own way for the past two months, got united and decided to intensify the struggle. So, ‘Fasting unto Death’ was decided and twenty women are undergoing this strenuous form of struggle since 13th April 2009.

On 22nd April it reached 10th day of fasting. The twenty women are very active women activists of the state. They are Prof.Saraswathy, Ms.Sheelu, Adv.PandimaDevi, Dr.Neelavalli, Ms.Kameswari, Ms.ChitraDevi, , Ms.Usharani. Ms.Kavitha, Ms.V.Sasikala, Ms.Ponnuthai, Ms.Sumathi, Ms.Paliniammal, Ms.Lokanayaki, Ms.Jayamani, Ms.Shanthi, Ms.LawarenceSelvi, Ms.Philomenal. Ms.Joyice Mary, Ms.P.Sasikala and Ms.J.Thangamani

In support of the fasting women, widespread agitation is going on throughout the state on everyday basis. Thousands of women involved in relay fast, road blockade, Dharna before congress office, rally and other forms and have got arrested. It’s the unique experience of united women’s massive struggle. In support of women, youth and citizens concerned about the issue have joined the struggle.

Eventhough the plight and agony of Eelam Tamils are worth receiving National and International community attention and support, it is left out as the concern of Tamil people alone. Though we human rights activists of Tamilnadu have responded to the human right violations in Gujarat, Bengal, Orissa, Afghan or Iraq , we painfully observe, the Tamils alone fail to receive the concern of other state human right activists and humanitarians. There is no visible protest against this gruesome genocide, the pogrom, next to Jews. The entire Indian people support and protest will definitely help to safeguard the remaining Tamil Population in Srilanka. Even one day delay in responding means death of thousands in the island. We strongly appeal on behalf of the Tamils to come forward with visible forms of protests and join us to save the Tamils. It is already late, please act on emergency basis. Your pressure on congress government at this juncture will help to stop the war in Srilanka.

Earnestly seeking your solidarity,

Lidwin – Women’s Collective
Christina – Penngal Munnani (Women’s Front)
Beulah - IWID

Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Hinarang: Citizens’ Signature Campaign for CARPER 21 April 2009

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

Farmers Marched Against HR 737 to Protect the Right of Filipino Farmers to Own Lands

Farmers from Sumilao, Banasi and Calatagan marched from Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City to the Batasan to protest the Congress’ deliberation of House Resolution (HR) 737 which seeks to allow the acquisition by foreign corporations and associations, and the transfer and conveyance, of alienable public and private lands. Instead, the farmers reiterated their demand to Congress to immediately deliberate CARP Extension with Reforms (House Bill 4077) and enact the same before its adjournment.

The 26 farmers walked with the message “PASS CARPER NOW” painted on their bodies, and staged a short program before the DAR and Congress together with other farmers from PAKISAMA, PKSK and PARAGOS. They also made a symbolic “burying” of anti-CARPER solons including Iggy Arroyo, Mikey and Datu Arroyo, Luis Villafuerte, Pablo Garcia, Alfredo Marañon, Crispin Remulla, Jeffrey Ferrer, Jose Lacson, Mark Cojuangco, Ebbie Apostol, Eufrocino Codilla, Sr., Jack Duavit, Pryde Teves and Bernard Piñol. DAR Secretary Pangandaman, who has failed to defend the farmers’ rights as agrarian reform secretary, was also buried with the anti-CARPER solons.

Incidentally, these anti-CARPER solons including Speaker Prospero Nograles are also the main proponents of HR 737. Last April 2, Speaker Nograles publicly expressed to prioritize the deliberation and enactment of CARPER before adjournment. House Bill 4077 has not yet been deliberated in the House since its resumption on April 13, yet, House Resolution 737 has been proceeding swiftly before the House. Sumilao Farmer Yoyong Merida laments, “Bakit uunahin ng pamahalaan ang pagbibigay ng lupa sa mga dayuhan samantalang karamihan sa ating mga magsasaka ay wala pang lupa? Dapat iprayoridad ng kongreso ang pagpasa ng CARPER para maipamahagi sa ating mga Pilipinong magsasaka ang lupa at hindi para sa mga dayuhan.”

Further, the farmers insist that HR 737 is based on inaccurate grounds. HR 737 alleged that allowing foreign ownership will usher in foreign investments. Based on studies, however, foreign investors in the Philippines are not actually asking for ownership of land. Rather, they merely need to be ensured of stability of rules so they know what rules govern their businesses and that there are actually mechanisms that will help protect their capital. Moreover, contrary to beliefs that foreign corporations could usher in increase agricultural productivity and efficiency, studies prove that smaller farms are more efficient in producing food crops. In addition, in the country labor is an important concern. Mechanization will not be efficient in the context because of a massive labor force.

This Constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of land obviously involves a national security issue. Considering that there is no cap to the total area allowable for foreign ownership, there might come a time that we will run out of agricultural lands which serve as food sources. This, specially considering that foreign corporations cannot be dictated what type of crop (food instead of cash crop) will be planted therein. Also, many of the produce of commercial farms—likely to multiply upon grant of ownership of lands to foreigners-are targeted for export and the output is intended for other countries. This will be problematic for food security in the country. In such a situation, there is a possibility that the retention limit for ownership of agricultural lands will be increased by legislation, as foreigners will not accept coverage of their lands under the CARP. As such, there will also be stronger resistance from Filipino landowners.

Farmers from Sumilao, Banasi and Calatagan who stayed in Manila are asking the public to join the CARPER campaign, as national development is founded on solid building blocks like agricultural development. Giving the farmers land to till enhances their opportunities for better income. Increased income for the rural poor results in an improved economy. An improved economy means a better country. Agrarian reform means economic development and food security not just for the farmers but also for all citizens in the country.

The farmers are also asking the public to join them in a March to Congress to bring the citizens’ petition for CARPER bearing 1 Million signatures. The march to Congress is scheduled to be held on April 27, 2009.

If you want to help gather signatures and schedule a screening of Lupang Hinarang, a film made by Ditsi Carolino (the filmmaker who made Bunso and Minsan Lang Sila Bata), please contact the following for details and information:

Kaka Bag-ao:
Jane Capacio:
Mally Gargar (BALAOD): 09224456384; 09177171879
Reggie Aquino/Junard Devila (KAISAHAN): 4330760

You may also visit the site for updates

April 5, 2009 lupang hinirang lupang hinarang citizens' petition for CARPER updates

Liga ng mga Barangay-Caloocan, Issues a Resolution Calling for CARPER; Mayor Echiverri Gave Full Support to Farmers

by Atty. kaka J. Bag-ao

The powerful Liga ng mga Barangay ng Caloocan strongly supported the farmers’ cause for the immediate enactment of House Bill 4077 and Senate Bill 2666 during a General Assembly of the Punong Barangays held at the Bulwagang Katipunan in the Caloocan City Hall. Further, Rico Judge “RJ” Echiverri, the current National President of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, led the issuance of “Liga ng mga Barangay ng Caloocan Resolution Calling for CARP Extension with Reforms” wherein all the 104 Punong Barangays of Caloocan present at the assembly signed and openly supported the farmers.

The Liga ng mga Barangay, created by virtue of Section 491 of the Local Government Code of 1991, is an organization of the almost 42,000 barangays throughout the country. It was organized primarily for the purpose of determining the representation of the barangay in the sanggunian and for ventilating, articulating and crystallizing issues affecting barangay government administration and securing solutions to these concerns.

The Resolution stated, “The Liga Ng Mga Barangay adheres to the 1987 Philippine Constitution which mandates the implementation of Agrarian Reform to serve the purposes of social justice and national development. Agrarian Reform should not only be the concern of the farmers but of all the citizens of the Philippines as it relates to food security and rural development of the whole nation. Therefore, The Liga Ng Mga Barangay, hereby strongly demands from the Congress of the Philippines the immediate enactment of a law which seeks to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) with significant reforms.”

The Resolution also strongly urges everyone to sign in the Citizens’ Petition for CARP Extension with Reforms and join the March Rally on April 13, 2009 where farmers, agrarian reform advocates and other groups and individuals will march to the Congress of the Philippines to demand the immediate enactment of House Bill 4077 and Senate Bill 2666.

At the later part of the assembly, Caloocan Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri, also came to welcome the Punong Barangays and the 5 farmers who were invited to speak before all the barangay officials on the status of agrarian reform and the pending bills in Congress. Mayor Echiverri supported the farmers’ cause and signed in the Citizens’ Petition for CARPER. Moreover, Liga ng mga Barangay President RJ Echiverri and Caloocan Mayor Recom Ehciverri invited the farmers and other agrarian reform advocates to speak before all the Punong Barangays of the Philippines in a scheduled National Conference in May 19-21. The farmers happily accepted the invitation.

Young CSB Students Inspire Farmers

When the farmers went back to CARITAS, a group of young and spirited students from the College of Saint Benilde (CSB), led by its incumbent Student Council President Aren Santos, prepared a sumptuous dinner for all the farmers and support groups. The students also integrated with the farmers and conversed with them during the meals. The farmers shared their stories and struggles for the campaign for the passage of the CARPER Bill, while the students also shared their sentiments on the matter. The students promised to support the farmers in every way they can.


Farmers from Sumilao, Banasi and Calatagan who stayed in Manila are asking the public to join the CARPER campaign, as national development is founded on solid building blocks like agricultural development. Giving the farmers land to till enhances their opportunities for better income. Increased income for the rural poor results in an improved economy. An improved economy means a better country. Agrarian reform means economic development and food security not just for the farmers but also for all citizens in the country.

The farmers are also asking the public to join them in a March to Congress to bring the citizens’ petition for CARPER bearing 1 Million signatures. The march to Congress is scheduled to be held upon Congress’s resumption of session on April 13, 2009.

If you want to help gather signatures and schedule a screening of Lupang Hinarang, a film made by Ditsi Carolino (the filmmaker who made Bunso and Minsan Lang Sila Bata), please contact the following for details and information:

Kaka Bag-ao:
Jane Capacio:
Mally Gargar (BALAOD): 09224456384; 09177171879
Reggie Aquino/Junard Devila (KAISAHAN): 4330760

You may also visit the site for updates

CARPER Signature Campaign & Congress Watch

As of today, the farmers were able to gather 52,741 signatures in support of CARP Extension with Reforms and have become more emboldened in their quest for social justice as more and more individual citizens and sectors walk with them in their struggle.
byAtty. Kaka J.Bag-ao

As of today, 11 Senators are CARPER advocates and assured the bishops that they will help ensure that a new CARP law will be enacted, with compulsory acquisition restored, and with at least P147 billion budgetary allocation, to wit, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Sen. Gringo Honasan, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Richard Gordon, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Pong Biazon, Sen. Nene Pimentel, Sen. Mar Roxas, and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.

As of today, 105 representatives have signified their support for the cause of the farmers and pushed for the adherence to the Constitutional mandate of undertaking and completion of an effective agrarian reform program in the country. The latest additions are Representatives Prospero Nograles (Davao), Ma. Amelita Villarosa (Mindoro Occidental), Michael John Duavit (Rizal), Robert Raymund Estrella (ABONO), Alejandro Marañon (Negros Occidental), Conrado Estrella (Pangasinan), Jeffrey Ferrer (Negros Occidental), and Andres Salvacion (Northern Leyte) during the lunch meeting with the Bishops on 2 April 2009.

march 29 lupang hinirang lupang hinarang citizens' signature campaign for CARPER updates

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

Sumilao Farmer Speaks Before Large JIL Crowd in Araneta

The farmers participated in the launching of “Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino” Movement last March 28, 2009 at the Araneta Coliseum which was filled by thousands of JIL followers. The movement was a reinvention of Bangon Pilipinas Party, the political party of Jesus is Lord (JIL) evangelist Eduardo “Brother Eddie” Villanueva during the 2004 elections.

Further, the farmers also took part in the symbolic sending of Brother Eddie to the stage where representatives of multi-sectoral groups walked with him towards the stage. One of the farmers, Yoyong Merida from Sumilao, was also given an opportunity to address the huge JIL crowd and gave a brief talk on the cause of the farmers and their present campaign for the enactment of the pending bill in Congress to extend and reform CARP. The huge crowd welcomed and applauded the farmers’ presence and participation in the launch of the movement.

The organizers of the event also coordinated the signature campaign for CARPER initiated by the farmers among those who participated in the movement. The organizers also promised that the movement’s support for the farmers does not end at the Araneta event, but they will continue helping out the farmers in their signature campaign in their several local churches. It is to be remembered that Brother Eddie and the JIL movement has actively shown support to the farmers and for the passage of the CARPER Bill in Congress.

During the launch of the movement, Brother Eddie offered a seven-point roadmap for national recovery. Aside from the farmers, several personalities also spoke before the crowd to support the Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino Movement. Among them were Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Leah Navarro, Josie Lichauco, Roy Seneres, Perfecto Yasay and Mayor Jonjon Villanueva. Special numbers were also given by Gary Granada and Noel Cabangon.

Farmers from Sumilao, Banasi and Calatagan who stayed in Manila are asking the public to join the CARPER campaign, as national development is founded on solid building blocks like agricultural development. Giving the farmers land to till enhances their opportunities for better income. Increased income for the rural poor results in an improved economy. An improved economy means a better country. Agrarian reform means economic development and food security not just for the farmers but also for all citizens in the country.

The farmers are also asking the public to join them in a March to Congress to bring the citizens’ petition for CARPER bearing 1 Million signatures. The march to Congress is scheduled to be held upon Congress’s resumption of session on April 13, 2009.

If you want to help gather signatures and schedule a screening of Lupang Hinarang, a film made by Ditsi Carolino (the filmmaker who made Bunso and Minsan Lang Sila Bata), please contact the following for details and information:

Kaka Bag-ao:
Jane Capacio:
Mally Gargar (BALAOD): 09224456384; 09177171879
Reggie Aquino/Junard Devila (KAISAHAN): 4330760
You may also visit the site for updates

CARPER Signature Campaign & Congress Watch

As of today, the farmers were able to gather 45,495 signatures in support of CARP Extension with Reforms and have become more emboldened in their quest for social justice as more and more individual citizens and sectors walk with them in their struggle.

As of today, 11 Senators are CARPER advocates and assured the bishops that they will help ensure that a new CARP law will be enacted, with compulsory acquisition restored, and with at least P147 billion budgetary allocation, to wit, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Sen. Gringo Honasan, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Richard Gordon, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Pong Biazon, Sen. Nene Pimentel, Sen. Mar Roxas, and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.

As of today, 97 representatives have signified their support for the cause of the farmers and pushed for the adherence to the Constitutional mandate of undertaking and completion of an effective agrarian reform program in the country. The latest additions are Representatives Art Defensor of Iloilo, Dan Fernandez of Laguna, and Candido Pancrudo of Bukidnon:

A Letter from Lilian De Vera

(I got this from my email)

Two months ago I considered myself as one of those blessed and happiest people on earth. Why not? I married a guy who was an epitome of kindness. A guy who worshipped even the footsteps I made. More importantly, our union blessed us with a daughter who not only became the main source of our happiness….more so; she was the center of our lives.

We're simple folks who led a simple life. We felt the happiest even about mundane things and inconsequential ones that most people would only take for granted. Our joy mostly revolved on simple pleasures like a sudden trip to Jollibee or a late night marauding of the fridge for any leftovers. A perfect family with simple delights, dreams and aspirations………until that fateful night on December 5, 2008.The day my husband and daughter were taken away from me in a very violent way. That Friday night on December 5, 2008 marked the beginning of all the terror, anguish and misery in my life.

In keeping with my ritual or "panata" on every first Friday of every month, I went to Quiapo Church on the above mentioned date to pay homage and respect to the Almighty One. My husband and daughter were supposed to pick me up in Pasay City after which we planned on giving our daughter a treat to Jollibee. While riding the jeep, I tried to call my husband to tell him that I was on my way to our meeting place. But despite all the calls I made, my husband remained silent. A very unusual occurrence inasmuch as he seldom missed my calls. Despite my trepidation and wonder, I took the next jeep going home and prayed that everything was alright. I even promised to myself that I would forgive my husband for not answering my calls and for forgetting to pick me up.

I felt relieved when near our place my phone rung. Such relief was somehow only momentary….in fact the phone call I got was the bearer of the worst news in my entire life. My helper called, only to tell me that my husband and daughter were shot to death by "men in uniform". The same men who were sworned to protect innocent people from bad guys brutally slew the two most important persons in my life. They were the same men whose sacred duty was to preserve the lives of the public against all harm and danger. Yet…….they were the same men who murdered my love ones in the most cruel, savage and inhuman way.

My husband's face was unrecognizable because he was shot in the head at close range while he was kneeling with his head bowed down. My daughter's young body was riddled with bullets, one hit her head, blowing her brains out.., all from too powerful guns and ammunitions fired by the "men in uniform" on two innocent and defenseless persons.

The "men in uniform" were allegedly on a mission to take some gang of robbers victimizing people at large. The police shot the crosswind van my husband and daughter were riding Based on some witnesses' narration, the police sprayed bullets into the van despite the lack of provocation or shots coming from the van. In his last effort to save their lives, my husband grabbed my bloodied daughter and shielded her with his body while trying to run away from the police and tried to get cover from a parked jeepney My husband and daughter were so defenseless. How can you mistake a child for a robber? How can you shot at someone who was already kneeling with head bowed, an indication of helplessness.

My husband and daughter are gone…….forever. The pain I feel for their lost is too much too bear. And the only thing that motivates me to go on with life is the mission to seek justice for their senseless killing. If the people who are responsible for their death will be punished, if I could bring them the justice they so richly deserve, my pain would be alleviated. The misery I will live by will be lessened. My husband and daughter will be vindicated and I will learn to live the remaining years of my life in peace..

Thus: I'm asking and begging everyone who will come across this letter/e-mail to forward the same to all your relatives, friends, and acquaintances. . Help me bring my cause to the eyes of the people capable of steering the wheel of justice to the right direction. Help me make the loudest cry worthy of attention by those people in-charge in rendering justice to those who deserve it.

Strength comes in numbers; it is where the impossible becomes possible. It is also where the unattainable becomes achievable.

My heartfelt gratitude for everyone who will take a moment in their too busy lives and forward this letter/e-mail to everyone they know. May God always protect you and your love ones from all harm.

Lilian De Vera



Independent senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today urges fellow lawmakers to fast track the passing of the extension together with reforms in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Pangilinan stresses the need for said reforms in CARP to be passed as soon as possible to avoid disillusionment of farmers with the government.

"The key issue here is the exclusion of the compulsory acquisition and distribution of private agricultural lands to farmer tenants," Pangilinan says. "Without this key component, the CARP is practically ineffective as an agrarian reform program."

The program expired last December, 2008 after 10 years of implementation. According to Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, there are still around 1.2 million hectares of private agricultural land up for distribution. The farmers asked for a five year extension. The Senate and House of Representatives instead compromised for a six-month extension without the compulsory acquisition and distribution of private lands. In this extension, only those properties voluntarily offered are being processed.

While land redistribution is a major concern, Pangilinan stresses that support services will play a vital role in delivering CARP's promise in uplifting economic capacities of farmers in the country. "It is time to shift the focus to the support of government agencies such as Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industries, and Department of Agrarian Reform in this program," Pangilinan says.

"CARP is much more than just redistribution of lands. Government agencies should work hand in hand with CARP in helping out farmers. The rights of the land owners must also be respected. They should be paid promptly and fairly, pursuant to the Constitution and laws. Agrarian reform done properly addresses both concerns of poverty reduction and economic development."

(Got this from Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao)

13 March lupang hinirang lupang hinarang update

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

CARPER PILGRIMAGE CAMPAIGN BACK IN MINDANAW, others stay in Manila to continue signature campaign for CARPER

The 48 pilgrim-farmers headed by the Sumilao Farmers with other farmers from Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Sur who participated in the Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Hinarang, A Famers’ Pilgrimage for CARPER, arrived in Cagayan de Oro City at 5:00 in the morning boarding Super Ferry.

“We left Manila not to abandon the CARPER campaign but instead to provide stronger and more consolidated support from our hometown,” said Berhilda San-ahan, one of the Sumilao Farmers. She added that the support from other sectors like the local government units and other groups will be solicited as well.

Alvin Tumarong from Don Carlos, Bukidnon, Nelson Nullas from Agusan del Sur and Numeriano Gabutero from Davao del Sur reaffirmed their commitment to the campaign and said that the same efforts will be initiated in their respective provinces.

It is to be recalled that the campaign started in Sumilao, Bukidnon last 12 February 2009. In their journey to Manila, the farmers passed by parishes, schools and dioceses and held education forums, press briefings and had signature drive to support for the enactment of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and (genuine) Reforms.

The campaign was likewise triggered by the irresponsible and malicious Congressional act in passing Joint Resolution 19 that effectively halts the transfer of private agricultural lands to the farmers. The JR 19 was passed despite the efforts of farmers, academe, non-government organizations and the Church to call for the passage of CARPER.

As the Congress went in recess, the farmers will not stop in calling legislators’ attention to uphold their constitutional duty to enact a law that will respect and protect the rights of the farmers. Instead, while some of the pilgrim-farmers will stay in Manila to continue national lobbying, some will go back to their respective places to strengthen local constituencies.

“If strengthening local constituencies would entail that we have to visit the district offices and houses of our congresspersons, we are more than willing to do that”, Nelson Nullas said.

Quirico Ligmon, another farmer from Sumilao, Bukidnon said that they will likewise ask local government units to pass resolutions urging national legislators to immediately enact the CARPER Bill. “We are hopeful that as we take the campaign in a different level, the congress will give preferential attention and immediate favorable response in our call”, Ligmon added.

The farmers recalled their different experiences during their journey to and while they were in Manila. San-ahan said that the overwhelming support they received from different groups and the continuous apathy of the Congress in the plights of the farmers will serve as their inspiration to continue the CARPER campaign.

While Marlyland Gargar of BALAOD Mindanaw said “Unless the remaining 1.3 M hectares prime agricultural lands is not distributed to the farmers, the real intent of agrarian reform program will remain unfulfilled. BALAOD Mindanaw also believes that it is the Constitutional duty of the Congress to extend and reform CARP”.

The return of the farmers from Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Sur in their hometowns is but a clear expression of the continuity and strengthening of what they had started on the CARPER campaign.

This gesture is likewise an affirmation of their solidarity to all Filipino farmers who are still yet to have their own lands despite their legal right to ownership of the lands they personally till.

The farmers from Sumilao, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Sur and South Bukidnon parted ways with hope that their efforts will not be in vain.

Twenty five farmers from Sumilao, Calatagan and Banasi stayed in Manila to continue constituency
building work on CARPER that includes visiting schools, parishes and communities to gather signatures for CARPER.

Fulfill the rights of the farmers! Enact CARPER Bill!

The Killing Continues....

Things have gone awfully wrong the past week. Rebelyn Pitao, was abducted and was later found dead in an irrigation canal in Carmen , Davao del Norte. Her mother Evangeline said her daughter was tortured, raped and stabbed to death. Her body bore a total five stab wounds from an ice pick;two stab wounds were above the breast, one of which hit the lung; two under the breast, one of which hit the liver eyes,blindfolded with a packing tape, she was strangled by a rope with a diameter three centimeter based on the markings around her neck. Her only crime was that she was the daughter of Leoncio Pitao.

Leoncio Pitao is the father of Rebelyn. He is better known as commander Parago of the New People’s Army who has been a pain in the ass for the military. He was responsible for the capture of Brig. Gen. Victor Obillo and Capt. Eduardo Montealot in February 1999 who were freed 58 days later in captivity. Commander Parago also led the raid on the Davao Penal Colony in April 2007. The killing was aimed at devastating her father who is the leader of Pulang Bagani Command but it had the opposite effect. Rebelyn’s father said in an interview that the killing of her daughter only strengthened his resolve in fighting for the revolution.

The killing of Rebelyn Pitao spurred an avalanche of condemnation and protest. From the street vendors to some lawmakers, many have been utterly disgusted over the brutal killing. Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or the MILF condemned it. Google the name Rebelyn Pitao, and you will be flooded with blogs, news and articles, all condemning the killing.

Fingers are all pointing in one direction and that is towards the military. Rebelyn’s mother did not mince words when she said the “evil, vicious men of the military intelligence group” was responsible for killing her daughter. The killing bears the mark of military precision and if you put the puzzle pieces together, it gets all the more clearer.

Rebelyn’s brother, Ryan, was hounded by military agents and was almost stabbed in 2005. Fearing for his life, the incident forced him to join his father in the NPA. In june last year, the younger brother of Commander Parago was shot dead in Tagum City by suspected military agents. Looming in the background is the Arroyo Government’s deadline to defeat and end the communist movement by the end of her term in 2010.

I think this is the reason why President Barack Obama won’t meet up with Arroyo. He can’t have his advocacy for Change be tainted with blood. The US Department of State in its 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Philippines , cites Human Rights violations perpetrated by the government, extrajudicial killings and the killing of journalists and political activists. Desperate efforts in silencing dissent.

I wonder what happened to the case of Ka Vic Paglinawan, who was shot dead in Malabog, Davao City. He is a farmer leader and organizer who before his death was groundworking in Mindanao for the planned National Mobilization to press Congress to Reform and Extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The killing of Rebelyn Pitao adds up to the list of Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.

(Photos from

3 March Speech of Rep. Risa Hontiveros on CARPER

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal and collective privilege.

Before anything else, I would like to mention the farmer leaders who are with us today. They, together with their 160 fellow farmers, marched to Manila to call on us, their representatives to finally enact House Bill 4077 and extend the funding for and reform the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Binabati ko sina Birhilda San-ahan and Quirico Ligmon from Sumilao, Bukidnon; Anita Nobleza from Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur; Glenn Malaluan of Task Force Baha and Talibayog from Calatagan, Batangas; Kapitan Mario Patriarca from Brgy. Sastre in Gumaca, Quezon; Villamor Galangera from Odionga, Romblon; and Merceditas Santos of Task Force Masagana Recovery from Bulakan, Bulakan.

When we closed our session on December 17, 2008, a few days before Christmas and a few days before the expiration of the funding for land acquisition and distribution, we passed the monstrosity that is Joint Resolution 19 – now Joint Resolution 1. We failed to pass House Bill 4077, the law that would have guaranteed funding for land acquisition and distribution post 2008 and incorporated significant reforms. Instead, we took away compulsory acquisition and made agrarian reform optional.

AKBAYAN has said it before, and AKBAYAN will say it again: VOLUNTARY LAND REFORM IS DEAD LAND REFORM.

When I explained my NO vote to Joint Resolution 19 last year, I warned that in doing what we have done, we have managed to decimate an entire class. But we did not know at the time that the consequences of our actions would be felt so soon on the ground. And the decimation of the ranks of our farmers would come so rapidly.

Soon after the enactment of the Joint Resolution, the Department of Agrarian Reform issued DAR Memo 09-01804, which directs its field operations staff and personnel to, and I quote, “defer the processing of compulsory acquisition including those landholdings in the pipeline, and survey activities for CA until further notice.”

Those who voted YES to Joint Resolution 1 gave long-winded justifications on their vote. From our first Joint Resolution to the second, we said we were doing it to “perfect” the law, and give ourselves more time to study proposed amendments to the program.

Well, Mr. Speaker and colleagues, let us see what took place on the ground during this so-called “study period.”

In the island of Sicogon, under the Municipality of Carles, Iloilo, the powerful corporation Sicogon Development Corporation (SIDECO), which has been setting its sights on the beautiful island of Sicogon for more than a decade, rounded up all the villagers in late 2008 for a meeting. Ignoring the most basic concepts of law and human rights, it declared a “Huwes de Kutsiyo” and threatened physical harm and even death on those who dared go against the proposed Sicogon Island Resort Complex of SIDECO. This resulted in an orgy of violence, including the destruction of a training center, the razing to the ground of a shanty of a farmer-beneficiary, the demolition of the house of farmer-leader Amelia de la Cruz. Right after the declaration of “Huwes de Kutsiyo”, the remains of Thelma Padios, a farmer beneficiary from Sicogon, was discovered with multiple stab wounds and burns on her face and body, and her private parts desecrated

Lives, houses and livelihood were lost because the farmers were protecting 334 has. of the property declared by the Department of Agrarian Reform as agricultural land. SIDECO filed an exemption case, claiming the entire 800 hectares as theirs for the taking, to be made into a resort. To date, no resolution of the case by the Regional Director is forthcoming. Worse, in June 2008 last year, after we passed our first Joint Resolution, a Judge in Barotac Nuevo handling the injunction case filed by Sicogon against the DAR to prevent acquisition decided to archive the case on the curious ground that there is no reason to discuss the case because CARP had expired.

Shaken but with heads unbowed, one hundred peasant families voluntarily evacuated the island to seek refuge and protection from the government and the Catholic Church. Early this month, 312 farmers launched their “Exodus for Land, Life and Dignity” to condemn the oppressions they have suffered in the hands of SIDECO.

And indeed, in other areas in the Philippines, this Resolution is being brandished like a scythe, used as a weapon by resolute landowners eager to protect their crown jewels and grateful for this new policy regime of voluntary land reform.

In Ormoc, owners of big landholdings—which have already been covered under the CARP and even distributed to farmer beneficiaries- have become more emboldened by Joint Resolution 1 to harass farmers and deprive them of their rights. In Barangays Donghol and Mahayag, a former landowner blocked the main roads leading to the farms to prevent the farmers from transporting their produce to and from the millers and the market. Because of this, their families cannot eat nor sell their own palay and other crops. In other cases, the millers receive the palay and tubo from the farmers and then refuse to mill or even return these to the farmers. The former landowners assert that the lands where these were harvested do not belong to the farmers and cannot be theirs anymore, because CARP is already dead.

Most of the landowners in Ormoc have withdrawn their voluntary offers to sell their land. And those whose lands have already been distributed under CARP are gearing to reverse the gains in the past, saying assuredly even to the local police, “Kahit may titulo pa ang mga iyan, e wala na namang CARP. Wala na silang karapatan sa lupa,” as if the previously distributed lands have suddenly become fair game again.

In Davao, Joint Resolution 1 has facilitated the landowner’s circumvention of the constitutional mandate for the redistribution of land to the landless farmers. Former Supreme Court Justice Leo Medialdea’s 53-hectare Estate in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur has been identified for CARP coverage since 2003. However, the landowner allegedly opted to voluntarily offer the land for sale (VOS) to at least 30 potential farmer beneficiaries in order to veer away from CARP’s compulsory acquisition (CA) mode. Six years had passed and yet the VOS process has not been commenced by the landowner and neither has the DAR initiated the sale. Worse, with the issuance of Joint Resolution 1 by Congress late last year, the landowner is no longer interested to voluntarily offer the land to the farmers, and neither can the property be compulsory covered under CARP for lack of budget.

There are many more stories of the same plot. In Rizal, farmer-leaders receive texts from Provincial Agrarian Reform Officers, telling them that nothing they do can convince the DAR to continue redistribution of landholdings. In Pangasinan, MARO’s admit to the belief that CARP has expired and is beyond resuscitation. In Sorsogon, we have gotten word that landowners are now withdrawing their Voluntary Offers to Sell and Voluntary Land Transfers. In Bondoc Peninsula, survey activities are being halted, pursuant to the DAR Policy Directive, and the harassment and criminalization of farmer-beneficiaries are intensifying. In mauban, Catanauan and Gumaca, Quezon, criminal cases were filed against farmers and no action for the coverage of these landholdings has been initiated by the DAR.

As I speak, farmers from all parts of the Philippines are once again making their way to our chambers on foot, bringing with them the voices of the countryside that rings louder and louder each day with the indignation of the unheard and the anger of the righteous. Farmers from Sumilao and Banasi are walking on foot once more to stand in solidarity with other farmers of the country whose cases have not yet been resolved. The farmers in Calatagan once more make their voices heard, refusing to live in fear that their agricultural lands will be snatched away by a mining corporation.

Under our watch, the lives, land and dignity of millions and millions of peasants have suffered the most serious affront in twenty years. Under our watch, their ranks are being decimated, and lands rightfully theirs are being snatched from them. Under our watch, the gains of the agrarian reform program are being frittered away.

Our farmers want only one thing, Mr. Speaker: they want a new CARP law that truly reflects realities on the ground and is faithful to the mandate of the Constitution. Just last week, we created the Speaker’s Special Panel on Agrarian Reform. How do we explain to our farmers that, in answer to their travails on the ground, our solution is to create yet another layer in the bureaucracy, yet another Committee?

This Special Committee should not be used as an excuse to delay further the main task of this House that is to subject HB 4077 to a plenary vote. This committee, if the intention is to consolidate both proposals for a speedier passage of the CARPER bills should –as the Speaker announced in the media – work even during recess so that any perfecting amendments can already be incorporated and immediately subject the same to the plenary for deliberation and approval. Let me emphasize that the special committee should not be used to further desecrate the goals of the agrarian reform program.

I call on all of us today to stand on their side. I implore my colleagues who voted for Joint Resolution 1 to rethink the wisdom of what they have done on the night of December 17, 2008. Let us bring Compulsory Acquisition back to where it should be: right in the center of the agrarian reform program promised by the 1987 Constitution. The deadline of Joint Resolution 1 is once more approaching, and no plenary hearings have yet been set for House Bill 4077, this despite the fact that we justified the Joint Resolution as a means to better study CARP and debate it on the floor.

AKBAYAN continues to call for the passage of House Bill 4077 and the return of Compulsory Acquisition. Let us not be a passive observer to the struggles taking place on the ground, and by our inaction and callousness allow further violations in all contentious agrarian reform areas in the country.

For the farmers of Sicogon and for all farmers in this country – and indeed for a CARP Law with Compulsory Acquisition and responsive reforms -- AKBAYAN continues to stand.

Thank you.