Land reform advocate killed in hacienda capital Negros

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) strongly condemns the killing of Julius Broce Barellano, 35, chairperson of Hacienda Medina Farm Workers Association, a local affiliate of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. Barellano is also a radio program host of local radio station Radyo Bandera based in San Carlos City.

Barellano was shot by still unknown riding-in-tandem assailants this morning, June 27, at around 8:30AM in San Carlos City. He was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to several gunshot wounds. He is the 27th victim of political killing in Negros. “We demand justice for Barellano and all the victims of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte regime.”

According to NFSW, Barellano is among the leaders of the land struggle of farm workers in Hacienda Medina against local landgrabber Wellington Uy.

Hacienda Medina covers 140-hectares and farm workers in the said landholding have been tilling the land as tenants before the land was issued with Notice of Coverage by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2013.

Farm workers of Hacienda Medina are facing various forms of threats, harassment and intimidation from Wellington Uy and his goons that are said to be supported by powerful and influential politicians in San Carlos City.

Yesterday, Barellano posted on his personal Facebook account an expose on the harassment against a peasant leader by Wellington Uy. The farmer was later identified by NFSW as Jusmelin Suarez.

Based on Barellano’s last post, Wellington Uy told the Suarez that the farmers can use the road in Hacienda Medina, (which Uy had blocked), if Suarez would apologize, disaffialiate with Dondon Madaba, another member of the Hacienda Medina Farmworkers Association, and refrain from joining NFSW activities and rallies.

Farm workers of Hacienda Medina continue to assert that the land belongs to them and Uy’s claim to the land is invalid as the ejectment cases filed against the farmers were junked by local courts.

“The killing of Julius Barellano is directly linked to the land struggle of Hacienda Medina farm workers,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. Hacienda Medina landholding was issued with NOC in 2013 but until today, the farmers do not own the land they till.”

“Negros remain as the hacienda capital of the country. DAR’s token efforts on land reform have not succeeded in dismantling the control and stronghold of hacienderos and big landowners over vast tract of lands in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.”

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte led the distribution of 1,775 Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) certificates to farmer-beneficiaries in northern Negros Occidental; and 938 in southern Negros Occidental.

“What DAR and Duterte are distributing to farmers are pieces of paper, not land. Under DAR’s land reform, CLOA distribution never equated to actual land distribution. Actual installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries to the land would actually take longer, given the hostile and resistant stance of landlords in Negros,” Ramos said.

Barellano is the 134th farmer/peasant leader killed based on the documentation of Tanggol Magsasaka.