On 24 December Jimmy Sotto was bringing home some kalamay rice cake for his family for Christmas Eve when he was attacked and killed by two men on a motorbike. Sotto was a leader in his community and fought for the human rights of farmers and peasants. He was the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee Chairman as well as the Secretary General of Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (Alliance of Capampangan Farmers).
“It’s like martial law in Central Luzon because of the harassment of leaders of farmers,” AMGL chairperson Joseph Canlas said.
Human rights group Karapatan has recorded eight extra-judicial killing (EJK) victims in the region since July 2016. The group said that in Nueva Ecija alone, three army battalions are allegedly encamped in the communities. These battalions have allegedly been targeting the recipients and distribution of social welfare aid for agricultural workers made redundant by mechanisation. The various groups are planning to hold a protest march for farmers’ rights in the capital, Manila during September.