The peasant death toll is now at 210. Two days after the beheading of a farmer in Bukidnon under martial law, another farmer is killed in Negros under Memorandum Order 32.
Lito Itao, a farmer and barangay tanod who sidelines as a habal-habal driver, was shot several times by two suspects on a motorcycle. He had been sitting outside a store when the attack began, and was able to run for his life some 25 meters before he finally fell.
A resident of Guihulngan City which has been heavily militarized by MO32, Itao was also the auditor of Guihulngan United Operators and Drivers Association, a local chapter of PISTON.
His murder took place in the wake of the abduction of eight peasants and a pastor in Negros Occidental which began the night of July 25 and continued till morning of the next day. A coordinated action by the police and the military, the serial illegal arrest was the government’s response to a recent armed encounter with the New People’s Army.
MO32, which imposes de-facto martial law on the island, is a US-backed counter-insurgency measure designed to combat the NPA. However, part of its design is the harassment and murder of activists of legal mass organizations redtagged by the state. PISTON is among those organizations vilified by state actors, including Duterte himself.
With Piston and the Defend Negros #stoptheattacks Network, Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo condemns the state’s sustained attack on organized workers and peasants. Justice for Lito Itao, justice for all victims of extra-judicial killings!