Farmers’ groups condemn killing of IP leader

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

FARMERS’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) condemned the killing of Gilbert Paborada, a leader of Higaonon indigenous tribe and chairperson of Pangalasag.
Paborada, 47, was shot dead Wednesday afternoon by unidentified assailants in Barangay Puntod, Cagayan de Oro. He succumbed to eight gunshot wounds in different parts of his body.

In a statement, Antonio Flores, KMP national council member, said Pangalasag is an indigenous peoples (IPs) organization resisting the palm oil expansion of a company in Opol town, Misamis Oriental. 
Flores said Pangalasag, which literally means “indigenous shield,” has been at the forefront in the fight against land grabbing and expansion of palm oil plantations in Opol. 
Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general, said on May 6 to 8 this year, the APC together with the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN AP), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas/Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) and Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization organized an International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) to look further into the impact of the palm oil plantation into the lives of Higaonon tribe, where Paborada belongs.
Ajiguna said Paborada has testified to the IFFM team that on February 10, 2011, security guards of the company pointed their guns to him and one even threatened to shot him if he and his fellow tribesmen do not leave the land.
Since then, he said Paborada’s lives, including the other leaders and members of Pangalasag, have been put under surveillance.
“They have been receiving threatening text messages. The IFFM team members during that time even experienced harassment while the company’s personnel also reportedly threatened to abduct villagers who would join in the IFFM’s focused group discussion,” said Ajiguna, who is also secretary general of Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (Agra) based in Indonesia.
Ajiguna said they are demanding justice for Paborada and to all victims of human rights violations.
“We call for an end to land grabbing and land use conversion and to struggle for genuine land reform and uphold food sovereignty,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 06, 2012.

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