Karapatan condemns killing of peasant leader in Negros
Karapatan strongly condemned the killing of peasant leader Ronald Manlapat, 30 years old and a member of the local chapter of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NSFW) in Hacienda Joefred, Brgy. Luna, Sagay City, Negros Occidental yesterday, February 22 at around 5am. He was shot by an unknown assailant at the back of his head. Previously, Manlapat had been receiving threats for being actively involved in organizing laborers and farmers in their village.
“This is unconscionable. In an ideal situation, peasants like Manlapat should get support and services from the government. But for insisting on suitable wages as laborers on a farm, they get bullets instead. To add insult, killings of peasants have remained unpunished,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Palabay cited the cases of NFSW leader Alexander Ceballos who was killed last January 20, 2017, and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) members Wencislao Pacquiao and Webby Argabio Sr., who were killed last January 20, 2017 and November 8, 2017, respectively, as among the recent cases of extrajudicial killings in Negros.
The island is widely known to have been plagued by persistent issues of landlessness, landgrabbing, underpayment of wages of agricultural sugar workers, poverty and labor right violations, with the continuing dominance of big sugar barons and landlords in the province.
“The culture of impunity which this regime embraces must end. We call for an independent investigation on the killing of Manlapat and all peasant activists who are staunch campaigners of genuine agrarian reform,“ Palabay concluded.