DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A staunch Lumad school supporter was how a farmers’ group described Federico Plaza, a Lumad farmer-activist, who was killed by unidentified gunmen in Compostela Valley province earlier this week.
“We have lost count of the number of farmers and Lumad killed by the mercenary AFP under the Duterte administration but the majority of the victims are from Mindanao, particularly from Compostela Valley,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas, in a statement Friday.
Flores said Plaza was a village Indigenous People’s mandatory representative and supporter of local Lumad school Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc.
“Plaza is a staunch critic of the continuing intensified militarization in Compostela Valley and AFP’s combat operations in peasant and civilian communities,” he said.
Citing a report from human rights group Karapatan, the KMP spokesperson accused the Army’s 71st and 46th Infantry Battalions as the culprit behind Plaza’s death.
“We demand the dismantling of these ‘killer battalions’ 71st and 46th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army as well as the pull-out of military troops from Davao region,” Flores said.
He pointed out that the two army units were involved in the “series of killing of anti-mining activists and land reform advocates in Compostela and Davao region.”
The military has yet to issue a statement on the alleged accusation raised by Karapatan and KMP.
“We keep on asking, why Compostela? Why majority of the farmer and Lumad victims of political killings are from Compostela,” Flores asked.
“Compostela Valley is sprawling with abundant natural resources including gold, silver and nickel reserves, a hub for mining… Compostela is also a center of people’s struggle and resistance. Farmers and Lumad resisting land and resources grabbing, expansion of large-scale mining operations and other profit-driven development aggression projects are among the targets of political killings and rights abuses,” he said. (davaotoday.com)