Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao ( file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—- Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao has condemned the spate of killings against the farmer-activists across the country.

Casilao was referring to the deaths of Veronico Lapsay Delamente and Alexander “Ka Sander” Ceballos. Delamente was a Mamanwa tribal leader in Surigao del Norte and local leader of Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong mga Organisasyon (Kasalo – CARAGA), a regional Lumad organization, who was killed on Jan. 20 by unknown motorcycle riding gunmen.

Alexander “Ka Sander” Ceballos, a leader of National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros, was killed last week in Murcia town, Negros Occidental.

Delamente was opposing the large-scale mining operations of Claver Mineral Dev’t Corp. in Claver town, while Ceballos was opposing land grabbing and harassment from the family of former Don Benedicto Salvador Mayor Nehemias Dela Cruz, Sr., according to Casilao.

Another farmer was also killed last Jan. 25 at Barangay San Benito, Calatava, Negros Occidental, citing a report from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Negros Chapter. The victim was killed for his active role on peasant campaigns for the poor and landless farmers to have access to farm land.

Casilao said the “serial killing of farmers in the province is alarming amidst the holding of the peace talks between the government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).”

“We are urgently calling the panels of the peace talks, especially the government side to put a stop to this atrocity against farmers who are asserting their rights to land,” he said.

“The free distribution of land is already being deliberated on the Socio-Economic Reforms agenda, these EJKs, if it remains unabated would derail the talks, as well as the road to a just peace.”

Casilao blamed what he called a “systematic attacks against farmers in Negros to the ruling feudal relations.”

“This is the very reason, we filed HB 555 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or GARB, to totally emancipate Filipino farmers from landlessness and root out the social base where landlords obtain their relished supremacy. If monopoly control on lands are taken away from hacienderos, it would incapacitate them to carry out atrocities against farmers,” Casilao said.

Casilao urged the Duterte government to put a stop to extra-judicial killings against farmers and serve justice to victims, to build an atmosphere conducive to the advancement of the peace talks. (

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