By JHAMES PAREDES
TUGUEGARAO CITY – A thousand farmers joined the Anakpawis provincial assembly in Cagayan province and renewed their pledge to support the pro-poor and pro-farmer platform of the party-list in defiance of the intensified police and military red-baiting against the group.
Former agrarian reform secretary and Anakpawis 2nd nominee Rafaeal “Ka Paeng” Mariano, who spoke in the assembly, lauded the Anakpawis members for their unwavering commitment and support for Makabayan Senatorial candidate Atty. Neri J. Colmenares.
“The overwhelming presence of so many farmers and workers in this assembly, simply means the police and military redbaiting and partisan efforts grossly failed. This is an assertion of Cagayanons to the people’s democratic rights and social reforms,” he said during the activity held on April 6 at Convention at the F.L. Vargas College.
Karapatan Cagayan Valley documented and reported massive red-tagging, political vilification and forced surrenders against Anakpawis orchestrated by incumbent Governor Manuel Mamba, the 17th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police Region 02.
The former solon also condemned the collusion of the police, military and some government officials to malign his group by associating it to the New People’s Army and coercing it members to surrender as armed rebels.
Mariano said the national and local leaders of Anakpawis are already mulling the filing of a case of “partisan political party-list and its members.
Isabelo Adviento, regional coordinator of Anakpawis, attested to the might of the farmers and the people through a speech declaring the numerous achievements of collective action spearheaded by farmers for the farmers. Among these include the latest victory of farmers in Baggao town where traders agreed to their demand for zero interest rate in times of calamities in a dialogue on March 19.
According to him, Anakpawis also provided relief and rehabilitation assistance to calamity stricken farmers during typhoon Lawin in 2016 and Ompong in 2018.
“Anakpawis and its members have no need to clear their names with the provincial government, the AFP or the PNP. Anakpawis is a legitimate party-list since its establishment in 2003, was duly registered under the Commission on Elections and has won a seat since the 13th Congress. Our members, who are poor farmers and workers found all over the country, are just practicing their democratic rights to organization and free speech,” he said.
Meanwhile, Calixto Cabildo was reinstated as the Anakpawis Cagayan chairperson.
The Anakpawis chair said the just call for genuine agrarian reform, which had been long fought for by the group of peasant organizations, continue to draw farmers to join and support the party-list.
“Anakpawis has deeply integrated with the toiling farmers’ struggle for agrarian justice and peace, and it is through attaining these noble objectives that the organization has persisted and endured, and has time and again exposed the deadly neglect of government for the agricultural sector,” Cabildo said. # Jhames Paredes