Renato Peñas, Vice-President of PAKISAMA (National Movement of Peasant Organizations), was ambushed dead by unidentified gunmen at 11:00 PM Friday, 5 June 2009, on the way to his farm in Sumilao, Bukidnon.
He was 51.
His 2 companions are in the hospital nursing gunshot wounds.
It was a high price to pay for selflessly dedicating himself to the agrarian reform movement.
He is one of the most respected, trusted farmer-leaders, and whose creative, dynamic ideas have fired the spirits of many farmers to make the agrarian reform program truly work in the country.
Ka Rene, a recognized leader of the Sumilao farmers and presently Vice-President of PAKISAMA, recently led various campaigns in Congress to help enact CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform with Extension and Reform).
He led to victory the 1,700-kilometer Sumilao and the 444-kilometer Banasi farmers’ marches in 2007-2008.
His last text message about CARPER was “Panalo na tayo!” (We won!).
Ka Rene is the third PAKISAMA leader gunned down in the last 7 months, in what are apparently agrarian-related and politically motivated killings. They were all from Mindanao.
He has attended Asian Farmer's Association (AFA) events before, such as the 3rd General Assembly in Korea in March 2008, and the IFAD final negotiations for the medium term cooperation program in May this year.
Ka Rene is survived by his wife Evangeline (55), and 4 children, Noland (27), Wopsyjenn (26), Jerald (24) and Realynme (16).
Please pray for them and his soul that they may have justice and peace.
We ask you to also pray for our country as well.
Justice for Ka Rene! These brazen, senseless killings must stop!
PAKISAMA Statement on the Assassination of Renato Peñas, National Vice-President
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
PAKISAMA condemns in strongest possible terms the dastardly and cowardly assassination of our leader, Renato Peñas (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 Peñas!
Justice to all victims of extrajudicial killings!
Justice to all farmers and the Filipino People!
Statement of APL on the assassination of Ka Rene Peñas
The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly killing of Ka Rene Peñas as well as the attempted murder of his two companions.
Ka Rene and two of his colleagues were on their way home when they were ambushed by at least two shotgun-wielding murderers. He died on the spot after sustaining 11 gunshot wounds – three on his chest that exited on his back and eight all over his arms. Fortunately, his two companions, though injured, managed to escape.
We believe that Ka Rene was killed by those who continue to fight against everything that Ka Rene stands for – the full emancipation of our peasants. His death is therefore the collective sin of all greedy and vicious landlords who continue to cling to their antiquated and dubious ownership claims over vast tracts of land.
Coming at a time when the farmers have just succeeded in forcing the House of Representatives to adopt a bill extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law with reforms, this dastardly act once again reminds us all how far these parasitic and indolent landlords are willing to go to defend their selfish interests!
We squarely blame the Arroyo regime for failing to stop the political killings that has hounded the entire progressive movement for several years now. Up to now, the government has yet to give justice to the dastardly murder of hundreds of journalists, trade unionists, peasants and political activists, creating a climate where dastardly elements like the killers of Ka Rene can act with impunity and even with relish!
We call on the government agencies to redouble their efforts to bring to justice not only the butchers of Ka Rene and all the victims of political killings, but more importantly the masterminds behind these ruthless slaughters!
At the same time, the APL vows to honor Ka Rene’s death by reaffirming its unwavering support to the peasant struggle for emancipation from feudal and capital bondage, as the APL unwaveringly struggles for the emancipation of labor from the clutches of capital and tyrants, and eventually to achieve a genuine social transformation.