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Farmers and peasant advocates recommended the abolition of NTF-ELCAC during dialogue with UNSR Irene Khan

Representatives from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, AMIHAN national federation of peasant women and Tanggol Magsasaka yesterday met with United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan at the UN House in Manila. The peasant groups were among the civil society groups who had a dialogue with Ms. Khan regarding the state of freedom of expression of specific groups including marginalized communities. The dialogue also tackled national laws, regulations and policies regarding freedom of expression and opinion, including the right to information, regulations related to disinformation, hate speech and their implementation.

Peasant leader Danilo Ramos of KMP and Maggie Seva of AMIHAN joined the dialogue in which they briefly shared the situation of Filipino farmers and rural-based sectors whose right to freedom of expression and opinion are persistently undermined by the previous and current administrations.

Ramos said the the whole-of-nation approach to counterinsurgency implemented by the Marcos Jr government encroaches even to civilians and peasant communities.

Ramos said attacks perpetrated by the NTF-ELCAC affect and undermine farmers’ rights and freedoms — including but not limited to the right to organize, right to association, and the right to freely express opinions and grievances. “Consequently, such violations also affect the country’s food security. In many instances across the country, farmers cannot freely go to their farms because their communities are highly-militarized and deployed with battalions of heavily-armed soldiers. The capacity and capabilities of peasant associations are clipped when their leaders and members are being redtagged and are forced to surrender. Why will farmers surrender when they only farming and asserting their right to the land, and expressing their just demands?”

The KMP leader said that instead of heeding the plight of farmers and strengthening the domestic agriculture, the Philippine government weaponized the law through Executive Order No. 70 and used such laws against farmers, fisherfolk, peasant women, agricultural workers and the rural youth.

KMP, AMIHAN and Tanggol Magsasaka recommended to the Special Rapporteur the following:

1. Recommend to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to immediately stop the harrassment and surveillance against Danilo Ramos, peasant advocates and farmers who feed the nation;

2. Recommend to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to stop the ominous redtagging and terror tagging of farmers and activists, and the widespread vilification campaign against leaders, and members of legitimate and progressive organizations; and

3. Recommend to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

KMP, AMIHAN and Tanggol Magsasaka are joining the #FightToExpress campaign to highlight assertion the freedom of expression and opinion.