The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) vehemently condemns the escalating crackdown on activists, human rights defenders and advocate groups including on one of its national staff members involved in the Hands Off Sr. Pat Campaign. In essence, there is a de facto nationwide martial law under the Duterte regime.
According to UMA Secretary General John Milton “Butch” Lozande, Nadja de Vera, UMA’s national staff member and who is also an active volunteer in the Hands Off Sr. Pat Campaign, has been harassed by state agents.
On June 23, 2018, 5 days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released its order to nullify the forfeiture of visa against Sister Pat and ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to pursue the cancellation of visa and deportation case, a state agent broke and entered the house of Nadja de Vera and her family, between 1 to 5 PM.
Several items were stolen. Among these were a USB, external hard drive, smart and other phones, laptop, and a tablet.
Then from July 2-5, 6 suspected state agents in 2 motorcycles and one Revo vehicle including the person who broke in Nadja’s house were seen stalking her place.
Earlier on May 26, 2018, the day after Sr. Pat filed her Petition for Review at the DOJ against the Bureau of Immigration’s order for Sr. Pat to leave the country and the DOJ released a decision in favour of Sr. Pat, there was an attempt to enter Nadja’s house when no one was home. The state agent tried to break the door’s hinge lock.
Ka Butch added that “the continuing threats, harassment, intimidation, surveillance even of its national staff and illegal arrests and killings of agricultural workers and peasants all over the country are clear indications that we are under a Nationwide Martial Law. We need to become more vigilant and assert our rights in the face of Duterte’s intensifying dictatorship and tyranny.”
In Mindanao, the 8th IBPA illegally arrested 6 peasant women who are members of UMA-member Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (OGYON) in Bukidnon on July 3. The next day, peasant and lumad leaders were placed under illegal mass arrest in General Santos City during a seminar. Not to mention the spate of political killings with the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.
While in Visayas, Julius Barellano, peasant leader of UMA-member National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) was shot to death last June 27. The military has also red-tagged farmers who were simply asserting their right to their lands through bungkalan or land cultivation in Negros Occidental. Part of the red-tagging is the inclusion of NFSW leaders and members of other progressive organizations in public posters of alleged armed rebels in the town of Moises Padilla and other parts of Negros Occidental in April.
And in Luzon, around 27 peasant leaders and farmers in Batangas, a number of which belong to an organization under UMA, were filed with trumped-up charges and included in the DOJ terrorist. Currently, the military has been circling barangays in Calaca, Nasugbu, Lian, San Juan, and Rosario, among others.
“The people do not need an actual pronouncement on television to see that we live in a dictatorship and murderers run free. They are not fooled by Malacanang’s lies as it denies that a climate of impunity exists while day after day another peasant leader, priest, or lumad is either killed, detained or arrested,” Lozande stated.
Agricultural workers vow to intensify its campaign in exposing and opposing Duterte’s atrocities with a huge number from its ranks joining the mobilization during the SONA on July 23.
Lozande added, “In the weeks to come, the masses are getting more organized and becoming more united. In Duterte’s third and perhaps his last SONA, he will know the full meaning of what no lie-spouting machine could ever deny—that sovereignty will and has always resided with the Filipino people.”###