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Statement on Assassination of Farmer leader in Porac

The National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace/ Caritas Philippines (CBCP-NASSA), social advocacy arm of the Philippine Catholic Church, strongly condemns the senseless and brutal assassination of farmer leader Menelao “Melon” Barcia on May 2, 2014 in Purok 3, Barangay Manibaug Paralaya in Porac, Pampanga. Barcia was the third, in six months who was killed in relation to land reform.

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.

Together with some 300 farmer-families, Barcia demanded the distribution of Hacienda Dolores under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). They are only requesting a portion of the 761.1 hectares of agricultural land in the Hacienda which they have been cultivating for more than 50 years.

The death of Melon Barcia and Armand Padino (January 2014) who were fighting for the piece of land they were tilling for a long time, only reflects the inability of the Philippine government to protect the landless farmers against wealthy and politically influential landlords. In an apparent attempt to sow fear and dampen the spirits of the poor tillers struggling for their rights, the killing of Barcia is a clear and shameful act of intimidation and violence against the poor and struggling farmers. The fact that it was repeated within a few months reflects impunity on the part of law and justice enforcers.

The Church, in its prophetic ministry of promoting social justice, stands in solidarity with the small farmers and indigenous peoples in Porac to their struggle for their rightful claim for the land.

In support of the call of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, we urge the government to uphold the law and protect the rights of the farmers and Aeta communities in Porac. 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. 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. We also urge the lay faithful to be brave in defending justice and sacredness of life and dignity, especially for the poor and defenseless.

National Director, NASSA

Chairman, ECSA-JP

May 10, 2014

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