Armed goons and security guards allegedly hired by a real estate company rained down bullets on farmers and volunteers in Brgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
Peasant women rights group Amihan National Federation condemned the shooting on an eight-member fact-finding team and more than 20 farmers – including at least seven minors in a statement Friday (Jan 28). This is despite the current nationwide election gun ban ordered by Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which started on Jan 9.
According to Amihan, the fact-finding mission was held after four households were demolished by the security guards on Jan 26. The team, composed of staff from peasant advocates from different sectors, was conducting interviews with the affected peasant families when the armed goons allegedly barged in and threatened the team and the farmers.
Two members of the fact-finding team were reportedly hurt due to the physical assault by the armed guards. More than 20 shots were heard which lasted for more than 10 minutes.
Cellphones, bags, and wallets of volunteers as well as relief goods for the peasant families were also supposedly taken by the guards.
A farmer uploaded a video on Facebook asking for help. “Tulungan niyo po kami, nagkakaputukan na po. Kawawa naman ‘yung mga bata. Nagpaputok sila, di na namin alam ang nangyari sa loob. (Help us, they’re shooting at us. The children are distressed. They fired their guns and we don’t know now what happened inside),” the farmer said, while running away.
“The farmers have been asserting their rights to the land since 1997 after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued an exemption order from land reform coverage. The Araneta Properties Inc. led by Gregorio “Greggy” Araneta III has been trying to evict the farmers since January 2013 to construct a private subdivision over the farmers’ farmlands,” the statement reads. It also noted that Greggy Araneta is the brother-in-law of presidentiable Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano condemned the attack against peasant families and the fact-finding team. “Hindi na nakontento sa paggiba ng mga bahay, pagnanakaw sa mga gamit ng mga pamilya, pati napamaskuhan ng mga bata, ngayon dadahasin pa (They weren’t satisfied with demolishing the farmers’ homes and stealing from their families’ resources. Now, they have committed violence on the farmers).”
“These series of harassment and rights violations should be investigated and hold the perpetrators accountable,” Soriano added.
Yahoo Philippines has reached out to Araneta Properties for comments but has yet to receive a response.
(Updated to add the 10th paragraph about our efforts to get a statement from Araneta Propertiesa.)
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.
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