STATEMENT: Oplan Bantay Laya will not stop the peasants

In a similar incident, Renato “Ka Atong” Pacaide was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Digos City in March 2 last year. Ka Atong was the stalwart secretary-general of NAMADDS-KMP (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao Del Sur). He was on his way to the office together with his daughter when he was killed. Before his death, he was instrumental in exposing the human rights violations of the 25th Infantry Battalion, including the “Bulane Massacre” in Matanao, Davao Del Sur. He facilitated the attendance of the witnesses to the consultation of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in Davao City last year.
With these two incidents, it is not difficult to figure out who stands to benefit from these killings. These men received death threats before they were killed. Both of them lived a life of service to the peasants in their respective areas. They were both critics to the government’s neglect to the already deplorable plight of peasants in the country. Needless to say, Ka Atong and Ka Celso were silenced.
Obviously, there is a systematic repression of government critics and a program to curtail movements that call for change. Oplan Bantay still operates and it is now being implemented in Southern Mindanao.
A year has passed since Ka Atong’s death and justice is yet to be achieved. Oplan Bantay Laya has even claimed another victim in Ka Celso.
Hundreds have been killed already from the ranks of the militant peasant movement in the Philippines yet it is not stopping. As long as genuine agrarian reform is yet to be attained, the peasants will continue to move forward undaunted by the killings.
We hope the government gets the message.
Justice for Ka Celso Pojas!
Justice to All Victims of Extra Judicial Killings!
Justice to All Victims of Human Rights Violations!