Church calls land dispute murder ‘intimidation’

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MANILA, May 16, 2014 – The social action arm of the Church calls the recent murder of farm leader Menelao “Melon” Barcia, the third in six months, a form of “intimidation” and demands a swifter response from the government on the land reform issue.

“It is saddening and infuriating that another farmer leader was killed for the second time in Hacienda Dolores. Threats and fear continuously surrounds the whole community, while they are still in the process of asserting their land rights amidst the threats and harassment of the contesting landowner,” said National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace/ Caritas Philippines (CBCP-NASSA) director Bishop Broderick Pabillo in a statement.

He called the Barcia killing on May 2, the third murder related to land reform in the last six months, “an apparent attempt to sow fear and dampen the spirits of the poor tillers struggling for their rights.”

According to Pabillo, the murders are “shameful” intimidation tactics against the farmers and the frequency of the killings “reflects impunity on the part of law and justice enforcers.”

“We demand the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Special Concerns and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to immediately act on the resolution of the land conflict in Hacienda Dolores, particularly the ancestral domain and the CARP issues,” he added.

Pabillo said the rest of the Church is united with the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga in urging the government “to uphold the law and protect the rights of the farmers and Aeta communities in Porac.”

Barcia, together with 300 farmer-families, demanded the distribution of only a portion of the 761.1
hectare-Hacienda Dolores, which they and their families had been cultivating for more than 50 years.

Before the Barcia assassination, Armand Padino was also gunned down in January 2014.

Aside from calling for more decisive moves from the government agencies, Pabillo called for justice for the brutal killings in the area.

“We urge the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation, identify the perpetrators and masterminds, and bring them to justice,” he said. (CBCP News/ND)

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