Chavit watchman on YouTube, tells farmers “Singsons are your enemy”
Farmers set to file charges of double murder Vs perpetrators
“Singson ang kalaban ninyo, hindi kami.”
Thus, said a security guard, identified as Rogelio Mariano alias Kamatis, allegedly employed by former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson in an uploaded video taken a day before the extra-judicial killing last Saturday of couple Roger and Lucila Vargas, both farmer leaders in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
“It is obvious that the security guard’s video revealed who is behind the land-grabbing in Barangay San Isidro. Apparently, he did it on purpose to intimidate and harass the farmers that they are up against a notorious warlord,” says Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general Antonio Flores.
On Saturday, September 19, the Vargases, both leaders of the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka sa San Isido (NAGKAISA) and active members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulakan – San Jose Del Monte were ambushed by two suspected gunmen riding a motorcycle in tandem while on their way to Grotto market in Barangay Tungkong Mangga to sell their vegetable produce.
The more than 13-minute video uploaded in YouTube was taken in the morning of September 18, when the Vargas couple and other farmers had a confrontation with the security guards of the SUPERB Security Agency led by Mariano who introduced themselves as employed by Singson who is claiming ownership of the contested 11-hectare agricultural land in Barangay San Isidro.
The peasant group got hold of a document bearing the letterhead of the Province of Ilocos Sur dated September 15, 2015 and signed by Singson requesting Barangay (village) San Isidro Chairman Marcial Gannaban “to give assistance to their geodetic engineers and workers to ensure their safety in conducting the clearing, study, and topographic mapping” on the contested agricultural land.
The farmers said that the security guards were insisting to include the land being tilled and occupied by the Vargas couple.
Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, executive director of the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), an institution giving legal assistance to the farmers said they are now preparing to file charges of “double murder” against the security guards led by Mariano and the Singsons, who also owns the SUPERB security agency.
“The motive could establish the identity of the perpetrators,” Pahilga said adding: “The Vargases do not have enemies and the only people who have the motive and intent are their rival in the land dispute, and in this case, the Singsons.”
“The video and documents confirm the motive and intent,” the farmers’ lawyer said.
For its part, the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Ex), KMP’s chapter in the Ilocos region demanded justice for the Vargas couple.
“The authorities should immediately look into the possible culpability of Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson and his security agency guarding the property. The provincial government must also explain why an official letter head was utilized when Chavit is no longer the governor of Ilocos Sur,” Stop Ex said.
The KMP maintained that “Singson’s armed security group were emboldened by the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency Oplan Bayanihan that approves and tolerates the use of private armed groups as force multiplier.”
“We fear that this climate of impunity will spread in the City of San Jose Del Monte where big landlords backed by local officials target thousands of hectares of farmlands for anti-people development projects,” says Flores noting that big landlords like “the Aranetas, Villars, Ayalas, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) are among the land-grabbers in the area.”
KMP reiterated demands for the immediate pull-out of Singson’s security guards, an immediate probe of the incident, and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We demand justice for Ka Roger and Ka Cila. The Aquino government’s political killings and the climate of impunity must be stopped now,” Flores said. #