Peasant leader escapes slay attempt in Tagum

Amancio Carmelo, 56, KMP Southern Mindanao secretary-general, said he ran away fast when he spotted two motorcycle-riding men aiming a caliber .45 pistol towards him as he disembarked from a passenger motor cab along Briz St. near the Tagum highway. 

Carmelo told MindaNews he heard they fired two shots and pursued him past motorists in downtown Tagum. Carmelo said he was unhurt in the incident.

The KMP joined other militant groups in an afternoon protest rally marking the anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre in downtown Tagum City hours before the incident.

On Jan. 22, 1987, 13 farmers were killed in Mendiola Bridge (now known as Don Chino Roces Bridge) in Manila reportedly after a strafing by anti-riot police.

Carmelo said they are looking at the possibility that a woman named "Nene," who met him before the rally and ate dinner with him an hour before the incident, was an accomplice.

He said he knew the woman as a member of the community where KMP works in Libanon, Montevista, Compostela Valley. But he said she acted suspiciously as they went out of the fastfood joint where they had dinner.

Carmelo said the assailants were hired to attack him. He said he knew of no enemies, except those who could be hit by the group's calls for justice for their slain colleagues.

He said he was targeted because he is a leader of a group who continued to call against intense militarization in the rural areas. He said even if he got killed on Monday, new leaders will replace him to press for the people's legitimate calls.

Kelly Delgado, Karapatan secretary-general, blamed the Arroyo government for the attack. He said the incident is part of the continuing threat against legitimate militant organizations with its Oplan Bantay Laya 2. He said political killings persist.

According to Karapatan's yearend report in 2006, farmers account for the most number of victims of extra-judicial killings in the country. Karapatan reported a total of 104 farmers out of the 185 victims of extrajudicial killing they have recorded so far from January to November.