Justice for Fort Magsaysay massacre victims sought
Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the Fort Magsaysay massacre that killed four farmers and wounded another. The victims were part of the cultivation activity on the land awarded to them inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
The four were resting after their farming chores when armed men alighted from a helicopter and opened fire at them Saturday afternoon. Their bodies were torn apart from the merciless rain of bullets.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the massacre of peasants in Fort Magsaysay. Impunity must end. We stand with our peasant brother and sisters in demanding justice against this heinous murder. The Duterte administration must ensure this won’t go unpunished,” said KMU Secretary-General, Jerome Adonis.
Reports revealed that the perpetrators are goons and private army affiliated with Palayan City Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas of the notorious Joson political clan of Nueva Ecija and a certain Col. Rigor of the Nueva Ecija CIDG.
“We urge President Duterte to immediately form a task force that will investigate and put the perpetrators behind bars to serve justice to our murdered peasant brothers and sisters” Adonis said.
On November 5, 1991, former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino awarded 3,100 hectares of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation to over a thousand landless peasants – including evacuees of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. The beneficiaries were issued a Deed of Transfer between then Defense Secretary Renato de Villa and then Agrarian Reform Secretary Benjamin Leung.
“By virtue of the 1991 Deed of Transfer between the DND and DAR, the more than 6,000 peasant beneficiaries should have already acquired ownership of the lands they live on and till. Since 2008, the 7th Infantry Division of the AFP took part in scheming and harassing Fort Magsaysay farmers to cancel their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards,” said Adonis.
The four victims of the massacre who were identified as Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay, are members of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa 3100 (ALMANA). During the Aquino administration, ALMANA 3100 leader Pascual Guevarra, 78, was shot dead inside his house by a lone gunman in barangay San Isidro, Laur, Nueva Ecija.