January 28, 2022 Press Release from Peasant and Indigenous Press Forum
Armed security with machine guns opened fire on peasant farmers and children, and members of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines), who were investigating the recent illegal demolition of their homes in Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte City, on January 28, 2022. The shooting continued for over 10 minutes, however, there were no fatalities. This reflects the larger threat of violent land-grabbing and coercion faced by peasant farming communities in the Philippines, where over 342 farmers, activists, and Indigenous people have been killed since 2016. Sources claim the shooters were employed by Gregorio “Greggy” Araneta III, the politically well-connected Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Araneta Properties Inc, a major real estate development company in the Philippines. Araneta is husband to Irene Marcos, the daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and he is also brother-in-law to Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., who is the frontrunner of the presidential election in May 2022 alongside Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the current president, Rodrigo Duterte.
Araneta has been contesting the public land (covering almost 3,000 hectares) and violently evicting farmers from San Jose del Monte since 1999. The land has been nurtured for community farming by landless peasants using organic practices for over three decades. Araneta wants to convert the farmers’ land into private subdivisions. His coercion comes at a time when food security in the Philippines is already severely threatened. However, if Araneta prevails, the project will be significantly lucrative for his clan.
This past year has seen more examples of blatant violence against peasants, activists, and Indigenous Peoples, such as the massacre of Indigenous Tumandok people resisting the Jalaur Mega Dam, and the Bloody Sunday massacre of Calabarzon, where 9 activists were murdered. In San Jose del Monte City, upland farmers have been suffering greater threats, harassment, coercion, militarization, arson, evictions, and killings. According to the UN report on Human Rights in the Philippines (2020), under the Duterte regime, the vilification of dissent is being normalized in ways that will be very difficult to reverse. Violence is re reinforced by harmful rhetoric from high-level officials, including the phenomenon of de-humanizing individuals or groups (including human rights defenders and NGOs) by “red-tagging” them as communists or terrorists. Clan politics in the Philippines — coupled with corruption between the private and public sector — is endangering already embattled Indigenous farming communities who are resisting corporate-backed development.
“We urge broad public support for the struggle of San Jose del Monte farmers. their lives and livelihood are in peril with the persisting displacement and harassment by the Araneta-Marcos family.” - DANILO RAMOS, KMP
28 JANUARY 2022 / TUNGKONG MANGGA, SAN JOSE DEL MONTE CITY, PHILIPPINES
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