CAMARINES NORTE, Philippines – Various groups believed that the killing of farmer leader in Compostela, Valley is a violation of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the government in connection with the ongoing peace talks with the National Democratic Front.
During a temporary stopover in Tabugon, Sta. Elena here, on Tuesday afternoon, Moro and Lumad leaders participating in the Journey of National Minorities for Self Determination and Just Peace staged an indignation rally to decry the death of farmer Jimmy Saypan after the attack of men riding-in-tandem.
Saypan, who was the secretary general of Compostela Farmers Association was shot on Monday, October 10 early morning in Barangay New Visayas, Montevista town in Compostela Valley and died the following day.
Jong Monzon, spokesperson of Pasaka Confederation of Lumads, said they believed the perpetrators belong to state security forces.
Saypan and his organization was tagged as affiliated with the New People’s Army. CFA members reported that there were sack posters in the villages which say that the CFA and the NPA are one and the same.
“Some posters call Saypan as an extortionist and a fraud, while I was being accused as a bomb maker, said Noli Villanueva, vice chairperson of the CFA.
“As leaders of the Compostela Farmers Association, our lives have always been in danger because of our opposition to big mining companies such as the Agusan Petroleum,” Villanueva said.
“But because of this, we can now surely say that the Armed Forces of the Philippines do not respect the ongoing peace talks. They were the ones who violated it,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva recounted that just like himself and Bello Tindasan, chairperson of CFA, Saipan was the constant subject of vilification by many pro-mining groups in their hometown in Compostela Valley.
“Amidst the seemingly jovial mood for peace brought about by ongoing unilateral ceasefires declared by both the government and the communists as well as the recently concluded second round of peace talks in Oslo, soldiers continue to encamp in the communities of the Lumad,” said Monzon.
“The presence of soldiers in our area, the unabated existence of paramilitary groups, and now the death of Jimmy Saypan is proof that the Armed Forces of the Philippines do not respect the peace talks. We will bring this issue to Manila and to President Rodrigo Duterte and we trust that he will heed us, because he has helped us before,” Monzon said.
Around 2,000 Lumad and Moro from all over Mindanao joined by other national minorities in a people’s caravan dubbed as the Journey of the National Minorities for Self Determination and Just Peace is currently traveling to Manila to highlight their struggle.
Meanwhile, GRP panel head and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the shooting of Saypan is an “isolated case”. Bello called on the police to investigate the case. (With a report from Zea C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)