“Sa ating mga kapulisan, please stop from killing the farmers who put food on our table! These killings prove that the culture of impunity being allowed by our law enforcement agencies are worsening.” 

This was how Marawi civic leader and peacebuilder Samira Gutoc strongly condemned the killing of 14 farmers in Negros Oriental last Saturday. 

Gutoc, an #OtsoDiretso senatorial candidate, also called on the administration to stop its red-tagging of farmers and other progressives. She noted reports saying that witnesses and relatives of victims attested that police executed the farmers “tokhang” style. 

“This red tagging has got to end. Stop pointing at anyone as communists without sufficient proof! These tokhang-style killings should be investigated independently. These nanlaban narratives should be counterchecked,” the former ARMM assemblywoman said. 

“Nakakalungkot na pagod na nga ang ating mga magsasaka sa kakabungkal ng lupa, kakarimpot na sahod, pagkatapos ay papatayin pa sila. We owe it to our farmers that we have rice on our plates everyday. I hope this administration would care to give them the respect and support they deserve. Tulong at pagsuport ang kailangan nila, hindi bala at karahasan,” Gutoc, a recent UNDP N-Peace awardee, added.

The former journalist said: “Some of the farmers were reportedly begging for their lives. It is quite ironic that while big drug and crime syndicates go unscathed in the country, our poor farmers who have no ties with those in power are easily killed. I warn this government, this war against your people would not succeed; worse, this may even backfire and cause more conflict.”

Samira Gutoc, an Otso Diretso senatorial candidate, champions peace. She was recognized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as Filipino of the Year in 2017 and by the Junior Chamber International as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM).