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Philippines: Agrarian violence claims more lives under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Regime

Agrarian violence claimed two more lives this month. A leader of Task Force Mapalad (TFM), Rico Adeva, 39, was gunned down by three men as he and his wife Nenita were walking to their home in Barangay Dos Hermanas, Silay City, Negros Occidental on Black Saturday. He suffered seven bullet wounds - in the head, stomach, chest, and hand. Meanwhile, in Davao, the Secretary General of the National Coordination of Autonomous Local Rural People's Organizations (UNORKA), Eric Cabanit, was assassinated by two masked men while he was in a public market in Panabo last April 24, 2006. His daughter, who was with him when the shooting happened, was also wounded and is still in critical condition.
Eric Cabanit
Eric Cabanit
by AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros

The killing of Adeva and Cabanit are clearly agrarian reform-related. Indeed, we expect more cases of violence because CARP is already in its last - and arguably most difficult - stretch. The government has already distributed non-controversial public and private lands, while controversial and large haciendas remain untouched. Big land owners have cultivated a sense of impunity hardened by the government's coddling of landed interests, private armies, and the lack of political will to redistribute lands.

Adeva's organization, TFM, a network of more than 300 peasant groups, has confronted several cases of agrarian violence in the past and some of its members had been killed by private armies supported by landlords who are opposed to the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). In one case in Negros, a sixty-year old CARP beneficiary fondly 'Nanay Teresa Mameng' by her fellow peasants, was found dead after gunmen randomly fired at an agrarian reform community. Nanay Mameng's case resulted in a congressional investigation on agrarian violence in Negros, where vast lands, some of them owned by the Arroyos or protected by the Arroyos, still have to be acquired and distributed under CARP. In Congress, we have been challenging Rep. Iggy Arroyo and President GMA herself to make a firm stand against agrarian violence and pave the way for the full implementation of agrarian reform in the island. In both Negros Occidental and Oriental, more than 2, 000 Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) holders have not been installed in farm lands given to them because of strong resistance from hacienderos who resort to legal manipulations and violence to retain control over their land.

In the case of Ka Eric from UNORKA, the redistribution of the 5, 000 hectare Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL), which is still controlled by the Floirendo clan, is being eyed as the main motive behind his assassination. DAPECOL should have been distributed years ago, but the Floirendos have successfully blocked attempts to give the land to more than 8, 000 workers.

We are posting below a very moving statement released by the Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Services (PARRDS), where Ka Eric served as a Board Member. The statement was subsequently published in Land and Justice, a special publication by PARRDS, UNORKA, and PEACE Foundation to cover the justice campaign for slain peasant leaders. (Click here for more updates on the killing of Ka Eric)


Throughout his entire life, Enrico Cabanit has grown accustomed to the art of seed-planting—memorizing each and every step, closely following every ritual, and singing his paean to the heavens upon the coming of harvest. In the end, Ka Eric fell like the seeds that he has tendered with his firm yet loving hands, commingling with the earth with no intent of burying the past, but to instead allow new lives to sprout. This was the essence of his sacrifice.

On 24 April 2006, at around 6:10 in the evening, Ka Eric Cabanit and his daughter Daffodil was in the public market of Pandao buying what was probably their evening meal when they were shot by two identified men on top of a motorcycle. The father died instantly, sustaining at least five gunshot wounds in the head, practically destroying his skull. His daughter, on the other hand, was rushed to the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum where she is now in ICU, suffering from a single gunshot wound that left a hole in her lungs.

The Secretary General of the Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA), Ka Eric has just concluded a dialogue with a number officials from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) when he was gunned down by his assailants.

During the said interface, no less than the Undersecretary for Field Operations Narciso Nieto had pledged to issue an order to the DAR regional office to release a decision by today (25 April 2006) regarding UNORKA's petition to place the 300-hectare citrus farms of the Worldwide Agricultural Development Corporation (WADECOR) under CARP.

He further promised to send a technical team to the said 1,023-hectare plantation at the soonest possible time to determine why it was exempted from the government's land reform program by former DAR Secretary Ernesto Garilao.

It is for this reason that his colleagues in UNORKA have placed the blame on the politically influential Floirendo clan which has the sole motive for his murder, being the owners of WADECOR and other similar plantations in Davao del Norte.

Ka Eric's death sets a very alarming precedent for agrarian reform advocates. It must be recalled that even prior to his murder, a spate killings were reported in April alone, targeting peasant leaders and rural activists known for their outspoken resistance to landlord domination.

And Ka Eric was no different. Not only was he a national leader of UNORKA, he was also member of our own Board of Directors and was very much active in the National Anti-Poverty Commission's (NAPC) Farmers' Sectoral Council—a legally created body that is tasked to monitor the government's poverty alleviation programs. He was also a Presidium member of the Citizens' Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA) which sought to disclose the truth behind the now infamous "Hello, Garci" tapes.

We believe that the masterminds of Ka Eric's murder have reckoned that with his death, it would create a chilling effect on the farmer communities in Davao del Norte, thus paralyzing their efforts to implement agrarian reform and secure the landowners' continued control of their plantations.

But they are gravely mistaken. For those of us who are left behind are even more inspired to take the cudgels for Ka Eric, to seek the perpetrators and place them before the bar of justice and finally end the centuries-old struggle for land in favor of the farmers. This is our task and we will see to it to the end.
Indeed, we are the new plants that have sprouted from Ka Eric's humble kernel.

April 29th, 2006



Social movement groups denounce killing of Ka Eric Cabanit, other peasants

by Dong Calmada (PEACE Foundation)

Sunday, 30 April 2006

Various social movement groups and personalities here and abroad have expressed their deepest sympathies for and solidarity with the family and colleagues of Ka Enrico Cabanit, who was assassinated by an unidentified man last April 24, few hours after a peaceful dialogue between the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Mindanao plantation workers, including Ka Eric and his group at Panabo, Davao del Norte.

Expressing shock, anger, and dismay in their respective statements were La Via Campesina, a global network of regional, subregional and national peasant movements, Movimiente Sin Tierras (MST, Brazil), FIAN International, Transnational Institute (TNI, Netherlands), ICCO, Rapid Agrarian Conflict Appraisal (RACA, Indonesia), German Bondoc Solidarity Group, Kilos-AR, Laban ng Masa (Struggle of the Masses), PARRDS, PAHRA, NOFFA, KASAMAKA, FIAN Philippines, BISIG, Peter Lavina (City Councilor of Davao), and Roger Daenekindt. All expressed a loss of a brave farmer leader and called on the Philippine government to do something concrete to bring justice to Ka Eric and other peasants killed.

Other groups and personalities have also extended support in other ways. FGN (Philippine Solidarity Group in the Netherlands) helps in generating moral, political and financial support from the Netherlands. Bishop Oscar Cruz of the Silent Majority Movement has committed to mobilize support from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

More support have been coming in through the nightly mass and vigil taking place at the DAR Central Office entrance gate.



Ka Eric's real name is Enrico Gallardo Cabanit. His family lives in Phase 7, Gamao Subdivision, San Francisco, Panabo City, Davao del Norte. He was born on March 6, 1953 in Daliao, Toril, Davao City and married to Yolanda Almero Cabanit with three children, namely, Eric Paul, Rapunzel, and Daffodil.

Ka Eric is one of the eight children of Paulino Cuyno Cabanit and Anacita Gallardo Cabanit.

Organizational affiliations

Secretary-General, Pambansang Ugnayan Ng Mga Nagsasariling Lokal Na Organisasyon Sa Kanayunan (UNORKA)

Chairman, Wadecor Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (WEARBAI)

Member, National Anti-Poverty Commission-Farmers Council

Member, AKBAYAN Peasant Caucus

Member, Laban ng Masa National Council

Vice-Chair, Philippine Ecumenical Action for Community Empowerment Foundation, Inc. (PEACE)

Board Member, Mindanao Farmworkers Development Center (MFDC)

Board Member, Foodfirst Information Action Network (FIAN)-Philipines

Board Member, Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Services (PARRDS)

Educational Attainment

Ka Eric finished his elementary school in Magsaysay Elementary School (1960-66) in Toril, Davao City. He graduated high school at Davao Central College in 1970. He took two college courses, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering in Mindanao Institute of Technology and Bachelor of Science in Commerce in University of Mindanao.


Senior Supervisor (1976-1980), Desidal Fruits, Inc./Minda, Carmen, Davao del Norte (DFI)

Part-time Instructor (1977-1980), Manay Barangay High School/Manay, Panabo, Davao del Norte

Farm Overseer (1981-1996), Worldwide Agricultural Dev't. Corp/Minda, Carmen, Davao Norte

Assistant Secretary, Mayor's Office (1998-1999), Local Government Unit of Carmen/Municipality of Carmen, Davao Norte

KB Chairman (1977-1981), SB Secretary (1977-1983), Councilman Elect (1983-1985), Minda Barangay Council/Minda, Carmen, Davao del Norte

Organizations and individuals that issued statements

11.11.11  http://www.11.be
BISIG: Bukluran para sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa,  http://www.filipinosocialist.org/
Bondoc Solidarity Group, Germany
FIAN: Foodfirst Information Action Network, Germany,  http://www.fian.org
Fr. Robert Reyes
ICCO: International Organization for Development Cooperation, Utrect, the Netherlands
KASAMAKA: Kalipunan ng mga Samahang ng Maralitang Magsasaka sa Kanayunan
Kilos AR: Kilusan para sa Pagsusulong ng Repormang Agraryo
Laban ng Masa Kanayunan (Struggle of the Masses-Rural),  http://www.labanngmasa.org/
La Via Campesina,  http://www.viacampesina.org
MST: Movimiente Sin Tierra (Movement of the Landless, Brazil),  http://www.mstbrazil.org
NOCPED: Negros Oriental Center for People's Empowerment and Development
NOFFA: Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers' Associations
PAHRA: Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
PARRDS: Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Services, Inc.
Peter Lavina, Davao City Councilor,  http://www.funchain.com/~peterlavina
RACA: Rapid Agrarian Conflict Appraisal, Indonesia
Roger Daenekindt, Belgium
TNI: Transnational Institute, the Netherlands,  http://www.tni.org

Supporting Groups

AGAPE: Advocates for Genuine Advancement of People Empowerment
Akbayan (Citizens' Action Party),  http://www.akbayan.org
DAR-Bahay Ugnayan
FGN: Philippine Solidarity Group, the Netherlands
Kilos AR
Laban ng Masa (LnM),  http://www.labanngmasa.org/


More Photos:  link to peace.net.ph


Murder of TFM community organizer , Rico Adeva, condemned

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

The Kilusan para sa Pagsusulong ng Repormang Agraryo (Kilos AR, Movement Advancing Agrarian Reform in the Philippines) last April 17 condemned the killing of Task Force Mapalad's community organizer, Rico Adeva, 39 years old. According to TFM, Adeva and his wife were walking home after buying food when three men emerged from the sugarcane fields and shot him down. The incident took place in Silay City.

Kilos AR's statement is as follows:

The Kilusan para sa Pagsulong ng Repormang Agraryo [Kilos AR], a coalition of peasant and non-government organizations working for agrarian reform, strongly condemns the inherently inhuman attack against fellow advocate, Rico Adeva, a known community organizer of Task Force Mapalad, who was shot to death by unknown armed men in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

We stand by the families of the victim in grief and sadness over the unjustified tragedy they had to face at the eve of the commemoration of Easter Sunday and firmly demand that justice be served for the sake of the five children left by the victim.

At the same time, we believe that Adeva's killing has something to do with silencing known advocates of farmers' right since it is the latest assault among the documented cases of shooting, mauling, straffing, intimidation and burning of houses and farms of known members and affiliates of Task Force Mapalad in Negros Occidental and Oriental.

In the wake of this event, we urge the government to relentlessly pursue land reform in Negros in favor of the farmers to end the decadelong agrarian related violence instigated by resisting landowners in an effort to obstruct and delay the implementation of a legitimate program until it expires in 2008.

We believe that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must condemn and denounce such act of landowners and lessees as counter-productive, anti-government and worthy of life imprisonment.

At the very least, the Department of Agrarian Reform must protect the gains of agrarian reform program as well as defend the farmers against the use of power and violence to discourage beneficiaries in pursuing their legitimate claims for land that are rightfully theirs in the very first place.

Hence, together with the broader community of agrarian reform and human rights advocate, we earnestly sought for the just resolution of the killing of Rico Adeva and demand that the government act swiftly on its mandate to enforce agrarian reform program and protect its beneficiaries. #



KPD condemned the brutal slaying of PKMM Kabankalan Chair Porferio Maglasang

The Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) - Negros, in a statement, has condemned the brutal slaying of its leader. While demanding an investigation of the extra-judicial killings, KPD- Negros asked the local government of Negros to put a stop to the series of human rights violations.

BACOLOD CITY - Another leader of a farmer's group was killed in Brgy. Camansi, Kabankalan City, by three unidentified armed men on Saturday, a week after a community organizer of Task Force Mapalad was also gunned down in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

The victim was identified as Porferio Maglasang, a father of eight children and chairperson of the Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid-Kabankalan chapter.

Supt. Roderick Alba, Kabankalan police chief, yesterday said Maglasang was forcibly taken out from his residence, and shot by his executioners in his own backyard in Sitio Caraan, Brgy. Camansi, Kabankalan City.

Alba said Maglasang sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of his body, which led to his death.

The Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) - Negros, in a statement, has condemned the brutal slaying of its leader.

While demanding an investigation of the extra-judicial killings, KPD- Negros asked the local government of Negros to put a stop to the series of human rights violations.

The slaying came exactly a week after a community organizer of the Task Force Mapalad was gunned down in Silay City, Negros Occidental. The police has yet to establish the identities of the gunmen who killed TFM leader Rico Adeva.

Adeva,39, also suffered multiple wounds - four in the head and one each in the stomach, right side of his chest, beside the mouth and left ear, waist and right hand, after he was shot by four unidentified men in Brgy. Bagtic, Silay City.

KPD- Negros said Maglasang was among the leaders of evacuees who fled during the launching of Oplan Thunderbolt by the military in southern Negros, especially in the areas of Sipalay, Cauayan, Candoni, Ilog and Kabankalan areas.

Prior to his death, Maglasang and other PKMM members were in a long-drawn out struggle over some 2,000 hectares of cogonal land in the upland areas of Kabankalan City, being tilled by almost 1,000 families.

Alba said they have not yet established the motive of the killing of Maglasang, except that the suspects were all young men.

Task Force Mapalad said in a statement that an independent committee composed of lawyers, church workers and human rights advocates, will be formed to investigate the killing of Adeva.

TFM-Negros president Rodito Angeles said the probe body will gather facts and information to shed light the murder of Adeva, and help the police in developing strong leads in identification of the suspects