Migrante Australia has condemned the recent spate of killings on the island of Negros where 13 peasants were killed in a span of three days from July 24 to 27. July 25 witnessed the brunt of these murders where seven were killed in just one day.
According to Migrante Australia, the killings were done in brutal, brazen and barbaric fashion. The latest killings included two lawyers, a former mayor and his cousin, a city councillor, a village chief, a school principal and his sister who is also a teacher, a doctor and other human rights defenders and community leaders.
“Negros houses acres of sugar plantations controlled by three sugar planters confederation. It is home to a handful of “hacienderos” whose power comes from their ownership of vast tracks of land and thousands of farmworkers who are mired in chronic landlessness, poverty and hunger,” Migrante Australia said in a statement.
“What the government calls “peasant unrest” and “insurgency” is actually a struggle by peasants for land, livelihood and human rights. And it is a struggle that past and the current government is finding difficult to wipe-out hence the killing spree in the island.”
“The Duterte government’s solution has been to further militarise the island. Through Oplan Sauron – an intensive campaign of the AFP and PNP against suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas in Negros – 20 peasants were killed in December 2018 and March 2019.”
Memorandum Order 32 (MO 32) saw the deployment of additional soldiers and policemen to Samar, the whole of Negros and the Bicol region to suppress “lawless violence and acts of terror” and “prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.
“It has already triggered mass killings and rampant human rights violations, mainly against peasants, fisherfolk and other rural-based sectors. In Negros, Memorandum Order 32 has only succeeded in increasing lawless violence,” Migrante Australia said.
“It will not be surprising if Duterte formally places Negros under Martial Law. All these killings are part of an orchestrated plan to justify its declaration and MO 32 is doing exactly what Proclamation 55 has done to a Mindanao that is under Martial Law. We must not allow this to happen. We must hold Duterte accountable for the ongoing bloodbath in Negros.”
Migrante Australia demands the scrapping of Oplan Sauron and Memorandum Order 32, which has encouraged violence aimed at civilians in the area. It also demands the demilitarisation of Negros.
Migrante Australia also urges the United Nations Human Rights Council to pay special attention to the carnage in Negros in its investigation of human rights violations throughout the country.
“Let us urge the Australian government – a signatory to the UNHRC resolution – to play a positive role in pushing for the Duterte government to respect and uphold human rights of the Filipino people,” according to Migrante Australia.
Migrante Australia calls on the peace-loving members of the Australian community to be in solidarity with the people of Negros.
“Join our action on the 20th of August and call on the Philippine Government to stop the killings in Negros! Scrap Oplan Sauron, MO 32 in Negros, Samar and Bicol, and Proclamation No 55 in Mindanao! Stop the killings in the Philippines,” Migrante said.