PALAYAN City, Nueva Ecija: The Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division condemned the killing of four farmers with-in Fort Magsaysay camp here on Saturday, disputing the reported involvement of soldiers.
The victims were identified as Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay – all mem-bers of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa (ALMANA), an affiliate of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) in Nueva Ecija.
Major General Angelito de Leon, commander of the 7th Infantry Division, said the crime scene is no longer part of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation since it has been turned over to the Department of Agrarian Reform by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 448.
EO 448 amended EO 407, entitled “Accelerating the Acquisition and Distribution of Agricultural lands, pasture lands, fishponds, agro-forestry lands and other lands of public domain suitable for agriculture.”
Laur town chief of police, Senior Insp. Romualdo Lopez, told The Manila Times that they are considering landgrab-bing as the motive in the killing.
The AMGL on Saturday said a helicopter dropped the attackers near Sitio Minalkot in Barangay San Isidro, Laur and indiscriminately fired upon the farmers working in an idle part of the 3,100-hectare disputed land inside Fort Mag-saysay.
Seriously wounded in the massacre was Angelita Milan.“We condemn in the strongest terms this apparent massa-cre of farmers. This latest assault adds to the long list of rights abuses committed by landlord politicians against the peasantry who are struggling for genuine land reform and asserting their right to the lands,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairman Joseph Canlas said.