Peasant groups demand justice and pull out of A. Brown Company from Opol
Mindanao, Philippines – The farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) condemns the killing of Gilbert Paborada, a leader of Higaonon indigenous tribe and Chairperson of Pangalasag. Paborada was shot dead yesterday afternoon (2 October 2012).
Antonio Flores, KMP national council member, said that “ Pangalasag is an indigenous peoples (IPs) organization resisting the palm oil expansion of A. Brown Company in Opol, Misamis Oriental; and a member of KALUMBAY, a sub-regional IPs Alliance in Northern Mindanao Region (NMR).
Paborada,47 years old, was brutally killed inside a house that has become his sanctuary for months now in San Nicolas, Puntod in Cagayan de Oro City. Based on the initial report conducted by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP)-NMR, who was part of the quick reaction team yesterday composed of human rights organizations, five ( 5) bullets peppered Paborada’s body.”
Flores added that, “Paborada’s goup, Pangalasag, which literally means “indigenous shield,” has been at the forefront in the fight against land grabbing and expansion of palm oil plantations in the town of Opol. Through the facilitation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and with the support of the local government, A. Brown started its operations in the area in 2010.
Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general, stated that “On May 6 to 8 this year, the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) , 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 remarked that “Paborada has testified to the IFFM team that on February 10, 2011, security guards of A. Brown Company, Inc. pointed their guns to him. One of the guards threatened him that he would be shot if he and his fellow tribesmen do not leave the land. Since then, his lives including the other leaders and members of Pangalasag have been put under surveillance and have been receiving threatening text messages.”
Ajiguna stressed that “The IFFM team members during that time experienced harassment. A. Brown company guards prevented us from visiting the house of a Higaonon located inside the plantation, claiming that it was “private property”. A. Brown personnel also reportedly threatened to abduct villagers who would join the focused group discussion.”
“We reiterate our call for the pull-out of A. Brown and the immediate return of farmers and indigenous peoples to their lands. We demand justice for Gilbert 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,” ended Ajiguna. Ajiguna is also the secretary general of the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) based in Indonesia.