January 21, 2009
HON. PRES. BARACK OBAMA
President of the United States of America
White House, Washington DC
HON. AMB. KRISTIE KENNEY
Ambassador to the Philippines
Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Dear President Obama,
Greetings and congratulations from the Filipino peasantry!
We are the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) or the Peasant Movement of the Philippines, the national farmers organization of the Philippines composed of 15 regional chapters and 65 provincial chapters. We are presently commemorating the 22nd Anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre that took place in January 22, 1987 during the Aquino administration and killed 13 of our members and at least 39 wounded.
We are conveying our message as we learn that you are a civil libertarian, advocate of human rights, a pro-democracy and a new hope for your country and ours as well. You are a total opposite of the President in Malacanang, Manila. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is of a landlord clan, keeping control of the vast agricultural lands cultivated by many poor farmers. She was not able to resolve of the centuries-old problem of the farmers that is landlessness. None of her programs pushed for genuine land reform or the free and democratic distribution of the very lands the farmers have developed and enriched. She is the major representative of the Filipino landlords dominating the countryside who use their political and economic powers to keep control of the lands and oppressing peasants who democratically struggle for genuine land reform.
Morever, Mrs. Arroyo is a human rights violator. Her counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (OBL 2, Operational Plan Guard Freedom 2) is composed of extra-judicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances (ED) and arrest and detention (A & D). This program has wreaked havoc at the countryside, violating the basic rights of peasants and killing nearing-thousand of legal-democratic activists since she assumed power in 2001. Out of 933 victims of EJK, 528 were peasants and 109 were KMP leaders. Also, 129 peasants were abducted and forcibly disappeared. Also, scores of peasant leaders and activists are incarcerated in prisons nationwide.
KMP National Council member and Southern Tagalog regional representative Eddie Gumanoy was killed on April 22, 2003 in Mindoro province while on a fact-finding mission regarding human rights violations. The UN Human Rights Committee concluded that the government and military is responsible for his murder. Also, KMP – Southern Mindanao Region leader Celso Pojas was killed in May 5, 2008 in Davao City. KMP National Council member and Panay Regional Chair Nilo Arado was abducted on April 12, 2007 and was never surfaced. Nilo Arado was a witness on the Philippine Senate investigation on the P728-million Fertilizer Scam that involved Mrs. Arroyo’s electoral campaign led by her appointees at the agriculture department. Another witness, KMP leader from Pampanga province Ofelia Rodriguez was killed on January 16, 2006.
In addition, when Mrs. Arroyo’s labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas issued an order to quell the strike at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac owned by former president Corazon Aquino, 7 agricultural workers were killed when military and police forces opened fire at the strikers. No justice were served for the victims.
The KMP National Deputy Secretary-General for External Affairs Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis is falsely accused and is now detained at Manila City Jail. He is a veteran activist who fought against the Marcos dictatorship and for democracy, and struggle for genuine land reform. He is accused of the “mass graves” in Leyte supposedly taking place in early 1980s when he was indeed in prison as a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship.
Generally, as the peasants are the majority of the Filipino people, KMP leads some of the biggest legal-democratic mobilizations in Manila and at the regions and provinces. Our mobilizations are always blocked with anti-riot government forces and were never allowed to hold rallies at Mendiola which is a historical venue. Our right to freedom to peaceful assembly is violated by the Arroyo government.
The peasant movement’s call to the Arroyo government is genuine land reform but in the process those who advocate peasants’ rights and interests become victims of human rights violations and systematically justice is not served. We are appealing your noble office not to support the Arroyo administration as her government is fascist, anti-peasant, anti-people and with gross record of human rights violations. Please do not associate your untainted integrity and reputation of democracy and human rights advocacy with the Arroyo authoritarian rule.
In light of pushing for democracy in the Philippines, we hope that you will maintain your pro-people standpoint by not supporting Mrs. Arroyo. We are hoping that you would response in the peasants’ favor.
In the name of the Filipino peasantry, we thank you for your time and attention and again, congratulations and more power to your office!
MR. DANILO RAMOS
MR. WILFREDO MARBELLA
KMP Deputy Secretary-General