PAKISAMA Statement on the Assassination of Renato Penas,
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka
June 6, 2009
PAKISAMA condemns in strongest possible terms the dastardly and cowardly assassination of our leader, Renato Penas (51) last night, around 11 P.M., while on his motorcycle with two companions to his farm in San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon.
While his companions survived, the assassins made sure Ka Rene would not. Crawling after the first volley of fire, he was shot again, and three shotgun bullets fatally pierced his chest and back.
Who could have caused the death of a man whose life was dedicated to serving the landless farmers?
A participant in a 1997 28-day hunger strike for land and a practicioner of active non-violence, Ka Rene rose to be one of the most prominent PAKISAMA leaders over the past two years. As a trained community organizer-paralegal , he led in 2007, the unprecedented but successful 1,700- kilometer walk of 55 farmers from Sumilao to Malacanang to make their claim over a 144-hectare ancestral land covered by the CARP. He figured in 2008 as the organizer-trainer of the successful 444-kilometer Banasi farmers walk from Bula to Malacanang, which reversed earlier adverse decision of Malacanang. During the past two months, Ka Rene was leading farmer groups coming from different persuasions, in a coalition campaign to push Congress to enact the extension and reform of CARP ( CARPER).
On May 30, he went home and was jubilant to learn that CARPER was finally passed by both houses of Congress and would soon be passed into law. But he was not given the opportunity by his assailants to see the fruit of his work.
We demand a speedy and objective investigation of this case. We ask the Arroyo government to demonstrate dispatch and professionalism in solving this crime.
We mourn with the widow and four orphans of Ka Rene and demand an end to the culture of impunity pervading in our society. We pray that Ka Rene would be the last among our leaders to be assassinated. We hope his case would not suffer the fate of two of our colleagues. On November 22, 2009, two hooded men gunned down our former Vice-President for Mindanao Vic Paglinawan in Davao City. On March 9, 2009, Boy Billames, Secretary-General of SAMATIKU, a member-farmer federation in South Cotabato was also gunned down by a hooded assassin. Until now, no suspects have been identified and caught in both crimes.
We call on the Filipino farmers to close ranks and transform to inspiration and courage the martyrdom of our leaders.
Let us continue the fight for agrarian reform and good governance and politics until every farmer owns the land s/he tills, until every citizen is not harmed while peacefully claiming his or her rights.
Justice to Ka Rene Penas!
Justice to all victims of extrajudicial killings!
Justice to all farmers and the Filipino People!