Philippine Daily Inquirer

SLAIN MASBATE FARMER VICTIM OF INDIRECT ‘RED-TAGGING’

- By Jacob Lazaro @INQjacobre­ports

Another farmer has been killed by an anticommun­ist paramilita­ry group in Masbate, prompting rights group Karapatan to sound the alarm that members of the peasant community in the province live in constant danger.

Karapatan said in a statement that Elorde “Nonoy” Almario was abducted, beaten up and summarily executed by two members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographic­al Unit (CAFGU) on April in Barangay San Carlos in the municipali­ty of Milagros last month.

“With 27 victims of counterins­urgency related extrajudic­ial killings in less than two years of Marcos Jr.’s rule, Masbate is fast becoming known as the “killing fields” of Bicol,” it added.

On April 4, Nonong Monteseban, the former barangay chair of San Carlos was also allegedly abducted, Karapatan said. It claimed that he was beaten up and was about to be killed by the same two CAFGU members but his captors let him go after they realized he was not the person they were looking for.

‘Intense military terror’

Karapatan condemned the killing of Almario, noting that it took place amid “intense military terror” due to the government’s anticommun­ist activities in the area.

According to the group’s Masbate chapter, Almario was a victim of indirect “Red-tagging,” which happens when a certain area has been tagged as a “counterins­urgency hotspot,” with the entire community publicly accused of being a member of an armed communist group.

Karapatan noted that this was not the first time a farmer was killed in Masbate due to the military conflict, citing the case of Aimee and Jover Villegas who were slain on the 2-hectare plot they were looking after.

While the military said the couple were killed during an armed encounter, the group said the nature of their injuries indicated they were “brutally tortured” before being killed.

On Wednesday, the peasant women’s organizati­on Amihan “strongly condemned” the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict for accusing the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas of being one of 30 supposed communist front organizati­ons in its report on April 6.

“The Red-tagging comes in the midst of the economic crisis exacerbate­d by the El Niño calamity that has caused almost [P3] billion in damages so far in the agricultur­e sector,” Amihan said.

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