Friday, March 17, 2006

"Harassment of parliamentarians in the cities, killings of union leaders in the provinces"


March 17, 2006

"Harassment of parliamentarians in the cities, killings of union leaders in the provinces"
Cong. Beltran condemns murder of Hacienda Luisita union leader yesterday

While in detention at the Philippine National Police Hospital in Camp Crame, Anakpawis Cong. Crispin Beltran condemned in the strongest terms the murder of Hacienda Luisita farmworker and union leader Tirso Cruz, saying that "political repression under the Arroyo administration has intensified into more brazen killings of union leaders in the provinces and ruthless harassment of progressive parliamentarians in the cities."

Cruz, 33 years old and a farm-worker, was a member of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) Board of Directors, a member of the Barangay Pano council, and Anakpawis coordinator for Hacienda Luisita's ten (10) barangays. According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), he was felled by motorcycle-riding gun men at 12:30 AM today in Barangay Pando, Concepcion, Tarlac while on his way home from a "puni" or Lenten ritual. He died of six bullet wounds.

"Cruz is the fifth Anakpawis leader to be killed under suspicious circumstances since January 2006," Beltran noted.

"He was also killed by motorcycle-riding men similar to those who have killed Anakpawis Camarines Norte coordinator Abner Galan and Anakpawis member and Tritran union leader Robert Dela Cruz last January. This modus operandi is no different from the motorcycle-riding death squads who have killed Anakpawis Bulacan Chairperson Federico de Leon late last year in Malolos and Anakpawis Southern Tagalog Chairperson and Nestle Union leader Diosdado Fortuna September last year," Beltran recalled.

The illegally-detained congressman called on to Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman Purificacion Quisimbing to take immediate action on the "record-breaking and ruthless killings of activists nationwide".

Anakpawis held a dialogue with Quisimbing and other CHR commissioners late last year, seeking urgent attention and action in response to the murders of Fortuna and other Anakpawis leaders in 2005.

"These killings suspected to be the work of Arroyo's henchmen in the military are obviously continuing up to now, and are even exacerbated by the intensifying political repression of legal and progressive organizations and individuals after the Presidential Proclamation 1017 and General Order No.5," Beltran said.

"The CHR should try to summon and probe Gen. Jovito Palparan and his men from the 71st ID stationed in Tarlac. Despite Palparan's repeated denials about any knowledge of the killings, it is clear to any critical citizen that Palparan and his men have left a messy trail of bloodshed which points to only them as the possible perpetrators," Beltran said.

Reports from the KMP note that around 50 CAFGU members and soldiers from the 71st ID under Gen. Jovito Palparan were deployed in Brgy. Pando up to now. They have been instrumental in suppressing community protests related to the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway priority project of the Arroyo administration.

Cruz, and Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) President Ric Ramos were among the local leaders actively campaigning against the construction of the said project. Ramos was murdered by unidentified assassins on October 25 last year in Brgy. Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita. ###


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