May 11, 2014
Church, human rights groups call on PNoy to act on killing of farmer leader, stop violence in Hacienda Dolores
In support of seeking justice for the widow of Menelao “Ka Melon” Barcia, the Archdiocese of Pampanga, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), and various human rights groups call on the attention of the government by showing concrete action to stop the violence in Hacienda Dolores, Porac, Pampanga.
Ka Melon, 57 years old, was driving to his house in his owner type jeep with his wife and niece on May 2, 2014 in the evening, when he was ambushed in Purok 3, Barangay Manibaug Paralaya in Porac, Pampanga, and shot at close range by still an unidentified individual. Based on reports, he was hit at the neck, lost control of the jeep and bumped a parked truck. The assailant followed up and shot him four times on the chest, which killed him instantly. Ka Melon’s wife was also hit with gunshots in her extremities that need surgery. His niece was not hurt in the attack.
Ka Melon, a barangay kagawad of Barangay Hacienda Dolores, was also one of the leaders of the Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (ANIBAN), a group that claims ownership of Hacienda Dolores by virtue of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). At the time of the attack, Ka Melon was reportedly carrying documents relating to agrarian dispute which he was supporting and assisting on behalf of farmers and their families in claiming and defending their right to land and livelihood in Hacienda Dolores for the past 57 years.
In a press conference held last May 10, 2014 in St. Catherine Parish in Porac, Pampanga, “Menelao was an innocent civilian like many of us who just wanted to get home that day. But the manner of his death was brutal enough that no sense could be made of it except that it was done with impunity and disregard for the rule of law,” Archdiocese of Pampanga Bishop Paciano B. Aniceto lamented.
“The killing of Ka Melon was simply the latest in a long list of similar attacks and violence committed in Hacienda Dolores, which have increasingly involved armed security personnel of private landowners targeting leaders and human rights defenders,” said Edeliza P. Hernandez of the Medical Action Group (MAG).
The list of alarming statistics about the agrarian dispute in Hacienda Dolores is long. Before Ka Melon was killed, Brgy. Hacienda Dolores Chair Antonio Tolentino, also leader of ANIBAN, was arrested due to trumped up charges of kidnapping and car napping filed by real estate corporation, LLL co. who claimed ownership of the disputed land.
“Sana ay wala ng susunod pa sa amin na maging biktima at sana tumulong na ang gobyerno na magkaroon ng ng kapayapaan sa barangay (Hacienda Dolores) namin,” Maria Barcia, widow of Ka Melon lamented.
Rita B. Melecio of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said, “to our mind, it is a lack of political will to address the culture of impunity which is the main reason the violence and killings continue in Hacienda Dolores. When armed security personnel think that they can get away with these heinous crimes, then no amount of tough talk can stem the tide of violence.”
“We demand the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Special Concerns and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to immediately act on the resolution of the land conflict in Hacienda Dolores particularly the ancestral domain and the CARP issues,” said in a statement of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA).
The groups also called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct immediate and though investigation, identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.-end-