The International League of Peoples’ Struggle Philippines strongly condemns the murder of human rights worker Zara Alvarez in Bacolod last August 17. Alvarez was based in Negros and was a member of human rights group Karapatan and the Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP). Karapatan is a member organization of the ILPS.
Over the years, Alvarez has been imprisoned under trumped up charges, tagged as a terrorist, and after her release, continually harassed and threatened by the military and the police. She has tirelessly assisted the families of extrajudicial killings in Negros and her work as a human rights advocate in Negros has made her a prime target of the state.
Activists in Negros have been victims of state-perpetrated massacres under the Duterte regime. Since 2017, Negros has been a hot spot for assassinations of peasants struggling for land reform and human rights defenders.
Perpetually neglected by the government, Negros farmers have organized themselves and reclaimed idle land, established agricultural cooperatives and their own system of communal farming known as the ‘bungkalan’, from the word ‘bungkal’ which means to till the soil.
The uprising of peasants in Negros is an indication of the Filipino people’s desire to wrest free from the fetters of feudalism, the backward state of agriculture which allows imperialist nations such as the US to extract superprofits from neocolonies such as the Philippines. The Duterte regime is threatened by the collective action of the farmers in Negros and the rest of the country. Prodded by its imperial masters, the Philippine government has resorted to sowing discord and terror to subdue the rage of the Filipino people.
The Duterte administration is preoccupied with weeding out threats to the perpetuation of its power amidst its imposed draconian lockdown. State enforcers have conducted warrantless searches of the offices of duly registered people’s organizations last year, while mass arrests continued amidst the pandemic. Some of those arrested remain languishing in prison.
The streak of slayings during the lockdown — urban poor leader Carlito Badion, Jory Porquia of BayanMuna, peace consultant and land reform advocate Randy Echanis, and human rights activist Zara Alvarez — is glaring evidence of Duterte’s policy on extrajudicial killings and his utter disregard of established norms and international conventions pertaining to the respect on the rights of human beings.
Duterte’s bloody reign is a death sentence to the peasants and the working class: either by contracting the Coronavirus, starvation, or summary execution. Instead of addressing the Coronavirus pandemic and the socio-economic welfare of the people, the government has made silencing critics its priority. Under the Anti-Terror Law, the lives of the toiling masses, human rights activists and peace advocates are further endangered as the killings continue with impunity.
The ILPS Philippines appeals to the international community to denounce the wanton murder of Filipinos, to support the Filipino people’s demand for genuine agrarian reform and for medical solutions in addressing the pandemic. The ILPS Philippines reiterates all human beings’ right to life, and the right to accessible healthcare as an extension to the right to life. The lives of Filipinos are not mere statistics of casualties under the pandemic or state-perpetrated murder.
The ILPS Philippines calls on its member organizations to continue expanding our ranks, to heighten our efforts in educating and mobilizing the Filipino people and to continue with the struggle against imperialism and fascism. We shall not cower to Duterte’s tyranny!
Justice for Zara Alvarez!
Justice for Randall Echanis!
Justice for Jory Porquia!
Justice for Carlito Badion!
Stop the killings!
Long live international solidarity against imperialism and fascism!
Down with imperialism!