ICHRP Condemns Military Harassment of Peasant Leaders in Central Luzon

Urgent Alert
June 20, 2024

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) condemns the reported illegal raid of peasant leader Ronnie Manalo’s residence and the military operation in peasant communities in at least six sitios of barangays San Roque, Paradise 3, and Tungkong Mangga   in the City of San Jose Del Monte (CSJDM) in Central Luzon. Manalo is currently the Secretary General of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and the Spokesperson of Tanggol Magsasaka (Defend Farmers).

On June 18, 2024 at 7:00 a.m., around a hundred combined elements of the 80th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA), the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) reportedly conducted military operations in these peasant communities, causing widespread fear and distress among peasants and other residents. They forcibly entered the unoccupied residence of Manalo and searched his property. A gun was allegedly found inside – most likely planted evidence, a ploy which state forces typically use during raids of activists’ residences in the Philippines.

Prior to the incident, residents observed the increasing presence of the military in these peasant communities. Military operations intimidating and targeting civilians, as highlighted in the recent International People’s Tribunal,  are in violation of international humanitarian law. 

Manalo has long been a victim of threats and red-tagging from state forces, owing to his long-time active involvement in the peasant struggle in the Araneta Estates. This area faced landgrabbing by Greggy Araneta III, the husband of Irene Marcos Araneta, the youngest sister of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In 2022, Manalo and Cecilia Rapiz, a leader of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB, Peasant Alliance in Bulacan) and also a resident in the area, lodged complaints to their local village chief on the persistent threat, harassment and intimidation of the military against them. In that same year, Manalo together with other peasant leaders and advocates were fired upon and harassed by goons of Araneta in Sitio Ricafort, Tungkong Mangga, CSJDM. 

Militarization of peasant communities in the city intensified in 2018. Since then, soldiers conducted Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) and encamped in the peasant villages. AMB leaders were subjected to surveillance and harassment by the elements of 80th and 48th IBPA. Residents were asked about the whereabouts of KMP and AMB leaders, and they have repeatedly been forced by the military to “clear” their names in the local village centers and even municipal halls.

ICHRP demands an end to the continued harassment of peasant leaders and the militarization of peasant communities in the Philippines. It condemns the Marcos Jr. regime’s continued human rights and International Humanitarian Law violations of farmers and peasant advocates who are legally exercising their democratic rights.

Further comment: Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson. WhatsApp: +61 418312301. Email: [email protected].

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