As crackdown vs activists intensifies, fishers’ group calls for lifting of Memorandum Order 32
Manila, Philippines – In time of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32 which placed the regions of Samar, Negros, and Bicol under the ‘state of national emergency’, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) along with other peasant and progressive groups trooped the Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday, to protest the “state-sponsored attacks against farmers, fishers, and other sectrors in rural communities”.
“Where do we go if the police and military are the ones who murder? Since the memorandum order has been imposed in these regions, cases of human rights abuses including illegal arrests, filing of trumped up charges, aerial bombings, and extrajudicial killings in peasant communities have reached an all-time high,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Citing the data of rights group Karapatan Bicol chapter, there were already 72 cases of extrajudicial killings mostly in Masbate and Sorsogon since the MO 32 was implemented.
While in Negros Island, a local leader of PAMALAKAYA in Escalante City, Francisco Laza, was arrested last April over fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Laza, the fisherfol group added, is one of the leading protectors of Tanon Strait against large-scale and destructive fishing caused by commercial fishing fleets.
“Duterte government rules with state terrorism in the regions that it declared to protect against its so-called lawlesness elements. Fishers and activists are either victims of EJK or being accused of trumped-up charges. State forces’ modus operandi is planting evidences such as firearms and explosives, and they are killing with impunity. Thus, the MO32 is not actually against the lawless violence, it is itself the lawless violence that totally disregards the rule of law. We strongly demand the revocation of this oppressive memo order in the name of restoring democratic rights and civil liberty in the communities that are under attack,” ended Hicap. ###