Cavite Indictees

Rogelio Galit, bedridden peasant leader, now political prisoner

 Mamay in the Provincial Jail of Mindoro Oriental 

Mamay in the Provincial Jail of Mindoro Oriental

 

 Popularly known as Mamay, he is  51 years old, married to Patricia Galit, and have two young children. They are residents of Sitio Pook na Munti, brgy. Kaong, Silang, Cavite where a land dispute has been brewing for over 10 years against Kuok Properties Philippines, Inc (KPPI), the Singaporean property development giant.

A true-blue Caviteno, Mamay was born and raised in Alfonso, Cavite. His first fight against injustice began in his late teens when as a high school student, he organized a students’ walkout in his school due to the administrator’s corrupt practices and the absence of subsidy to softball varsity players of the school. At the same time, in his home barangay, Mamay advocated the farmers’ rights to the lands they till, part of which were owned by the big landlords of Silang and part of it was being developed into agribusiness venture by the Marcos crony corporation, Independent Realty Corporation (IRC).

This involvement led him to work full-time as a peasant organizer in the province of Cavite in the early till mid-1980s. He had the chance to work with the priests and seminarians from SVD Seminary in Tagaytay City and the Diocese of Imus in organizing farmers and farm workers in Magallanes, Maragondon, Bailen and Alfonso, the most depressed upland municipalities in the province.

For almost a decade till the mid-‘90s, Mamay became an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia to support his family, who were ejected out of their farmlands in the early 1990s after a series of land-use conversion in Silang due to the entry of the big property developer KPPI in their place.

But Mamay is a staunch fighter for the peasants’ rights. He did not take the speculative incursions in Silang’s rich agricultural land sitting down. After his OFW stint, Mamay took the cudgels of leading the peasant struggle against the KPPI incursion since 1995, and succeeded in getting CARP coverage for 24 hectares in 1999 in their barangay. After waiting for two years to be “installed” as CARP beneficiaries, his local organization, BALIKATAN occupied the 24 hectare land in August 2001, benefiting some 30 families. They are still tilling this farmland.

From then on, Mamay resigned his work as a skilled glass fitter in a construction firm and served the peasantry of Cavite and Southern Tagalog in various capacities, being one of the most well-versed leaders of the movement in the struggle for land, despite having to fight for his own health and physical well-being, since Mamay is afflicted with type-2 diabetes and has to take regular insulin shots daily.

He became spokesperson of the Katipunan ng Magsasaka sa Kabite (Peasant Union of Cavite) KAMAGSASAKA-KA in 2002, and was elected PRO of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Federation of Farmers’ Organization in Southern Tagalog) KASAMA-TK, the regional chapter of the Kilusang magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Since 2004, Mamay is also a convenor of the Cavite Farmer’s Consultative Council (CFCC), a joint project of the peasant movement in Cavite with the office of Congressman Jesus Crispin C. Remulla (representative of the 3rd district of Cavite to the House of Representatives), which aims to raise agricultural productivity in the 3rd district of Cavite. He is also a member of the Silang Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council (MAFC), which is an organizational institution built by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Mamay also served as Cavite project coordinator of a fair trade project with a Canadian trading partner, the SAPED or Shuswap Association for the Promotion of Eco-Development, which purchased coffee products from Cavite at much better prices than the low price of the local coffee monopoly in the country, Nestle.

But Mamay is not only a farmer; he is also an articulate nationalist and democrat who loves his people and conscious of the problems of the country as well. Thus, he was elected as vice president for internal affairs of the multisectoral formation, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN or New Patriotic Alliance) Cavite Chapter in 2006 and actively served as the provincial coordinator of the ANAKPAWIS Party List Cavite Chapter in the 2004 and 2007 party list elections.

Mamay is afflicted with severe diabetes, which has already complicated his eyesight through the years and has suffered a lot of weight loss since. But he persisted in performing his organizational duties in the peasant movement, especially after the police and AFP elements abducted and detained the public information officer of KAMAGSASAKA-KA, two other organizers and two companions on April 28, 2006 in Tagaytay city, now known as the “Tagaytay 5” case.

On the night of November 3, 2008, Rogelio Galit was arrested by some 40 armed men in full battle gear belonging to the PNP-CALABARZON regional units at his house in Kaong, Silang, Cavite on the basis of the warrant of arrest for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder, issued by the Calapan RTC. Mamay, who is already bedridden due to his diabetic condition, was forcibly taken and brought to the PNP Regional Headquarters in Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba, Laguna. He was interrogated without counsel till midnight. The following day, Mamay was brought to Calapan City Provincial Jail in a wheelchair, where he is now imprisoned awaiting trial. Even some elements of the police arresting team were incredulous that a very frail and sickly man would be able to commit the crime he is being accused of.

Up until his arrest, albeit bedridden due to his frail condition, he is still full of ardor with his principles and ideals towards genuine land reform and genuine democracy.

 

Sheryll Villegas, student leader and BAYAN militant

From the rustic campus of the Cavite State University in Indang, Cavite, straight into the parliament of the streets of Cavite – this is the saga of Sheryl Villegas, a young student leader freshly out of college, who squarely faced government instrumentalities and truncheons and water cannons, as she carried forward the Filipino youth’s fiery idealism and BAYAN’s brand of progressive politics. This was the same route taken by renowned student leaders such as the martyred BAYAN national secretary general Lean Alejandro, Nathanael Santiago, and incumbent BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes.

Sheryl (or She for short) started her almost decade-long political journey in the idyllic campus grounds of the CvSU in Indang, which was then being wracked by an unpopular tuition increase caused by the decreasing state subsidy to state colleges. While pursuing her computer science course, She joined the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and later formed the Anakbayan chapter in CvSU so as to mobilize students and faculty members in addressing the raging campus issues at that time. She also organized campaigns for the University Student Council to elect more responsive student leaders to the student government.

She was elected as provincial secretary general of Anakbayan for the term 2001-2003. As such, she represented the youth and students sector in the broad alliance for good government, Concerned Caviteños for Peace and Development (CCPD) which was formed immediately after GMA’s ascent to power. At the CCPD, She met the political giants of the province at that time, such as former DILG secretary Cesar Sarino of Bacoor, Congressman Renato Dragon of Gen Trias, and former Supreme Court Justice Justo Torres of Tanza.

Anakbayan, with other youth organizations, launched its “E4All” (Education for All) campaign from 2001. She led a students’ dialogue (participated in by students from four universities and youth leaders from Anakbayan chapters in the province) with the provincial governor in 2002 to demand local subsidies for state colleges to augment its budgets and avert the annual tuition increase. Even as a student leader, She participated actively in the political movement outside the campus, namely the Oust-Erap campaign.

The 2001 election was She’s baptism of fire in real-life politics, in parliamentary exercises beyond student council elections. This was also the progressive movement’s first formal participation in parliamentary exercises after an absence of 14 years. She got involved in Bayan Muna’s campaign for party list seats in the House of Representatives, being the youth coordinator and deputy secretary general of BAYAN-Cavite. She became the main articulator of the youth demands contained in the People’s Agenda put forward by Bayan Muna in the course of its electoral engagement.

She worked fulltime as Anakbayan organizer among the students in the province in 2002, moving on as BAYAN acting provincial sec-gen in 2003, and formally elected as BAYAN provincial sec-gen in 2004; and as Bayan Muna provincial coordinator in the 2004 and 2007 elections. In these capacities, She coordinated the broad political campaigns and alliance work against globalization and Bush visit (2003); electoral campaigns in 2004 and 2007; for good governance in local and national government levels; calls for impeachment after the expose of “Hello Garci” and the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam (2005 and 2006); suspension of the Governor (2005); Truth and Justice campaigns in the ZTE-NBN contract (2007-2008); extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of political persecution (2005-2007); campaign for Tagaytay 5 and other political prisoners (2006-2008); and many other burning issues in the first decade of the 3rd millennium.

Aside from the street actions and indoor activities of these campaigns, She with her colleagues in BAYAN, mobilized Church, professionals, and middle class support to major sectoral campaigns of the workers (against the no union, no strike policy), peasants (land-use conversion and save the coffee industry campaigns), urban poor (against demolition and anti-poor development projects), youth, and women; and provided campaign, networking, and technical assistance to major municipal or district campaigns, such as the landfill case in Ternate (2007) or the incinerator project in Trece Martires city (2007), and the demolition in some 60 barangays within the province.

Though She may have traversed the entirety of Cavite, from every nook and cranny of its lowland plains and urban centers, and each and every hill and dale of its upland towns, She does not know where the white sands and mountains of Puerto Galera can be found, except in tourists maps, for she has never been to Mindoro.

 

Emmanuel  Asuncion – worker intellectual and political leader 

He is a constant fixture in innumerable street protests and mass actions since 1998 in the factories and industrial estates of Cavite, in major thoroughfares of the province up to Metro Manila, in the salt beds and beaches along the Manila Bay coast of Cavite. But he had never, never been to Mindoro. Much more, join an ambush by alleged New People’s Army guerrillas in the world-renowned white sand beaches of Puerto Galera.

The social metamorphosis of Emmanuel A. Asuncion depicts the capability of the social movement to pick up raw ores from rich mine fields, polish them in the crucible of mass struggles, and finally to turn ordinary people into gold nuggets who are articulate, well-versed in politics and honest community leaders – nuggets which are always cherished and loved by the people.

Emmanuel Asuncion, or “Manny” to his family, friends and foes alike, was a skilled factory worker in several establishments at the Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) in Rosario, Cavite in the 1990s after graduating from the Cavite National High School in Cavite City in 1987. Illegally retrenched in late 1997 by his last employer at the CEPZ, Manny, with other fellow retrenched workers, fought for their rights for compensation and job security. Through the Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) and the Parish of the Most Holy Rosary in Rosario (where he was an active member of the Catholic organization, Couples for Christ), he learned about his rights and the processes needed to fight for their rightful claims.

There was no looking back after his retrenchment. One factory is too small for Manny’s latent capabilities as a public speaker, a leader and as an organizer. He joined the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) in 1998 and served the alliance in various capacities for the next ten years – PRO, secretary general, chairperson and as member of its Council of Leaders – until the state decided to put a stop on his legitimate activities and demonized him in a multiple murder case in Mindoro in October 2008.

As a responsible SCW officer, Manny is always at the thick of the fight – in the negotiation tables, in government agencies, in the courts, in the streets, in the picket lines – for job security, higher wages and other benefits, and democratic rights, and against various forms of capitalist exploitation and discrimination in Cavite’s 21 “union-free and strike-free” industrial garrisons. With other fellow workers, Manny courageously manned the picket lines even at the risk of life and limb, especially during the wave of strikes against illegal retrenchment and factory shutdowns in 1999, 2001 and 2003 in Taiwanese and Korean-owned factories in the CEPZ, in Japanese firms at the First Cavite Industrial Estate (FCIE) in 2000, and in the Gateway Business Park in 2002.

Manny is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Workers’ Assistance Center since 2001, as a worker-representative to the said service institution in Cavite.

Being a typical representative of the working class, Manny lived in the urban poor colony of Rosario, in barangay Tejeros Convention with his wife, Liezl and their four children, despite being a natural-born Caviteno. On September 2005, after several years of negotiations, their community of 160 families was forcibly demolished by agents of the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) which claims ownership of the said property, to give way to a “mixed-use property development” of a 160-hectare commercial-industrial-residential estate. With their community organization, Manny led the struggle for a new resettlement site, and won concessions from the municipal government and the PNOC, that somehow alleviated the depressed conditions of the victims of demolition and social uprooting. This experience enhanced Manny’s stature as a community and political leader of Rosario.

Recognizing his capability and influence as a union and community leader, the political leaders of his hometown in Rosario drafted Manny to run as municipal councilor in the elections of 2004, the same election year which “elected” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a fraud and vote-buying laden political exercise. He ran under the coalition ticket of now Rosario Mayor Jose “Nonong” Ricafrente, with good governance and essential social services as banner platform. Fortunately for the progressive movement in Cavite (yet unfortunately for his constituents in Rosario), Manny lost his electoral bid. But the aspiration for good governance could still be fought outside the municipal hall. Manny filed several anti-corruption cases in the Ombudsman in the hope of cleaning up the municipal government of its corrupt rascals.

Even before his sortie into the electoral arena, Manny’s aspiration for clean and honest public service can be reflected in his participation in the party list elections of 2001, when he campaigned for Bayan Muna as the municipal coordinator of Rosario, a position he still serves up to the present.

In 2006, Manny was given the mandate to serve an even larger constituency in the mass movement of the province, when he was elected as vice chairperson for external affairs and appointed as the provincial spokesperson of the multi-sectoral alliance BAYAN Cavite. As multi-sectoral leader, Manny also immersed in the struggles of farmers, youth, women, and the urban poor in the province, and integrated his involvement in the broad political issues concerning our country – anti-poor development aggression, such as the Cavite Coastal road project; political persecution of activists and legitimate organizations; extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations; JPEPA and other unequal treaties; ZTE-NBN and similar corruption-laden government contracts.

 

Renato Alvarez, peasant leader 

If we are to believe the police information sheets and complaints before the courts and prosecutors’ office, Mr. Renato Alvarez must be the most dangerous man in Southern Tagalog by now – an arsonist, a mass murderer, a communist conspirator.

But indeed, police and military intelligence reports are contradictions in terms, a classical oxymoron.

Because Mr. Renato Alvarez or Ka Atoy (a polite word of respect in his native Batangas and Cavite) or Tatay Atoy (to younger activists and students of the peasant movement) is a responsible family man, a loving husband, and a doting father and grandfather to his three children and three grandchildren, who live with them in his humble home near a major police camp in Barangay Tartaria, Silang, Cavite.

For the people of Cavite, Ka Atoy is also a veteran peasant leader of more than three decades, an able practicing paramedic since 1984, and street parliamentarian who helped topple tyrants and plunderers.

From his humble beginnings as a factory worker in Manila, after finishing his high school in his rural hometown in Talisay, Batangas, Ka Atoy came to Tartaria in the mid-1970s to live as a farmer, just like his relatives there, who were tenants in the estate (hacienda) of the Aguinaldo clan of Cavite. He raised his brood through sheer hard work as a tenant farmer, tending their multi-cropped farm, small store of farm produce (pondahan) and several heads of livestock, while actively performing his duties as provincial chairperson of the KAMAGSASAKA-KA since 1998.

Together with other tenant families in the Aguinaldo estate, Ka Atoy steadfastly defended their rights to their farms since the late 1970s when the landlord family tried to eject them out of their lands to be converted as a commercial agribusiness venture, in connivance with the then provincial government. With the assistance of the local Catholic Church of Silang and Tagaytay, they courageously formed a village association, Samahan ng Magsasaka ng Tartaria (SAMATA), to fight off the eviction of farmers in Tartaria and adjoining villages in Silang, despite the martial law ban on organizing associations at the time.

Inspired by their signal victory in ensuring their rights in the Aguinaldo estate, Ka Atoy became a founding member and officer of the municipal peasant association in Silang (ALMAS, or Alyansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Silang) in 1984, which became a chapter of the KMP when it was formed in 1985. ALMAS and its successor organization in 1999, SAMASCA or Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Silang Cavite became a major organization in campaigning for sustainable development in the agricultural areas of Cavite and against wanton land-use conversion under Project CALABARZON in the 1990s. Ka Atoy serves as the incumbent chairperson of Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (KAMAGSASAKA-KA or Peasant Union of Cavite) since 1998. Under his stewardship, Kamagsasaka-ka launched its “Save the Coffee Industry” campaign since 2002, which advocated the increase in farmgate prices of coffee and calling an end to the monopoly of trading by the Swiss multinational food giant, NESTLE.

In recognition of his peasants’ rights advocacy work, the municipal government of Silang under Mayor Carlito Poblete and Councilor Lamberto de Castro awarded ka Atoy a certificate of appreciation during the 1st “Sumilang Festival” (or Farmers’ Week) in April 23, 2005.

He is also a trained paramedic or health worker, for he was also involved in a parish-based primary health care program in Indang, Cavite till the early 1990s, working with Fr. Cornelio Matanguihan (now a priest at the Gateway Business Park in Gen. Trias, Cavite).

Ka Atoy is also a certified ex-detainee, having been a recent victim of the brazen arbitrariness and investigative incompetence of the PNP. Last August 31, 2008, Ka Atoy, together with eight other peasant leaders and organizers, including their hired driver (hence “Silang 9”), were waylaid and abducted without warrants in Pasong Langka, Silang while on their way to a peasant leaders conference on land cases in Batangas, by elements of the regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) of the PNP Calabarzon. They were held for three days and nights at Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba, Laguna, interrogated without counsel, accused of being members of the armed revolutionary movement and maliciously implicated them in the bombing a Globe cell site in Dahilig, Lemery, Batangas on August 2, 2008.

The Cavite Provincial prosecutor, Atty Emmanuel Velasco, was constrained to order their immediate release from the Calabarzon jail after three days due to lack of evidence for the purported illegal possession of firearms and explosive being imputed against the Silang 9.

The abduction was clearly a case of harassment and political persecution by state security forces out to cripple the peasant and multisectoral movements in the province. From another dimension, their abduction was a fishing expedition for possible evidences that could be used by the PNP in pursuing bigger cases against prominent leaders of people’s organizations, since three weeks later the PNP filed another complaint in the Batangas provincial prosecutors’ office for arson, conspiracy to commit rebellion and destruction of property against 27 persons (hence “Southern Tagalog 27” or “ST 27”) in relation to the abovementioned bombing of the Globe cell site in Dahilig, Lemery.

The bumbling investigators of the PNP and the legal charlatans at the DOJ may demonize him no end, but for the farmers and people of Cavite, Ka Atoy is their “pangulo” – an acupuncturist, not an arsonist; a para-medic, not a murderer; and a community leader, not an armed communist conspirator.

 

Amelita Sto. Tomas, women’s rights activist

Ms. Amelita Sto. Tomas is a staunch women’s rights activist, being the incumbent chairperson of GABRIELA Cavite chapter since 2002, and concurrently the provincial coordinator of the GABRIELA Women”s party (GWP) since 2003 when its Cavite chapter was formed. She may be a woman militant, but that does not make her an NPA amazon capable of ambushing policemen in the hinterlands of Mindoro, as the DOJ and the PNP want the courts of justice to believe.

Amy’s stint in the progressive movement started when she worked as a Quality Control officer (QC) in one of the export-oriented garments factories in Dasmarinas Bagong Bayan, wherein almost 90% of the work force were women workers. Amy worked for 20 years in that undergarments factory and became an active union member. The workers at the DBB-NHA Industrial Estate bravely defied the “no strike” policy of the fascist dictatorship and went on to build one of the strongest militant unions at that time.

But even in the midst of her union activities, Amy also became an active urban poor sector leader in their community in DBB, the biggest urban poor relocation site in the country. By the late 1990s, the municipal and provincial governments in Dasmarinas and Cavite were already talking about a “Comprehensive rezoning plan” for DBB, which would mean demolishing existing houses in so-called “high-value” areas that have become more commercial in use. Amy readily became one of the area leaders in the struggle to secure the urban poor settlers homes and rights in DBB. They formed the UMAGA Federation ((Ugnayan ng Maralita para sa Gawa at Adhika) in 1996 as a resettlement area-wide association to campaign against the “rezoning plan” and secure other essential social services needed by the people of DBB. Amy was elected as an officer of UMAGA, with Nanay Ude Rubrico as chairperson.

Since most of the active members and leaders in the urban poor struggle were women, they also begun to organize distinct women’s organizations in the different areas of DBB, which was later organized into the GABRIELA chapter in Dasmarinas, with Amy as the first chairperson in 1998. Through their painstaking organizing and education work among women in the adjacent towns of Dasmarinas, these women’s associations established the provincial chapter of GABRIELA in 2002, with Amy as their provincial chairperson. Most notable among their projects were the annual commemoration of the International Women’s day on March 8 and the establishment of several “Botica sa barangay” in selected areas in Cavite to serve the health needs of poor people thereat. 

In 2003, the national leadership of Gabriela decided to campaign for its own party list in the 2004 elections, and started building the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP). Before 2003 ended, the Cavite chapter was formed, with Amy at its helm as its provincial coordinator. Amy is still GWP’s provincial coordinator in Cavite until now. 

By the way, Amy is too busy with her multifarious activities in the women’s movement in Cavite to ever set foot in Mindoro, especially on that fateful day of March 3, 2006, with the flurry of events for the Women’s Day that year.

 

Karen Ortiz, youth leader and human rights defender

Karen Ortiz is 25 years old, born and resides in Dasmariñas, Cavite. She is second to the youngest among 7 children of her parents.

She graduated from the Philippine Christian University (PCU), Dasmariñas, Cavite with an AB Psychology degreee. In college, she joined various University organizations, like the Arts and Sciences Society were she became its president in school year 2004-2005; Psychology Society as a Third Year Representative in 2003-2004; Dulaang PCU as President in 2003-2004; Student Christian Movement (SCM) as President in 2002-2003 (later becoming to be its provincial coordinator) and as an apprentice with the Christian Chronicle (the official student paper of PCU Dasmariñas) in 2004-2005. During her college years, she was an active member of the Anakbayan Cavite and even after graduating, she became an officer of the said organization. 

Later on she worked as an Administrative Officer of the Environment Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cavite Chapter under the supervision of Atty. Evelyn Dominguez from August 2005 until March of 2006. After her service with IBP-Cavite, she worked as a Human Resource Coordinator in a private company.

On January 2007, she became provincial coordinator of Kabataan Partylist in Cavite and actively participated in the 2007 election campaign. By June 2007 she became the deputy secretary general of the Cavite Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace.

She actively participates in various mobilizations during her student days and even while working in different offices until she decided to work full time for the people’s organizations. She has been a speaker in different gatherings as well. As a Human Rights worker she actively worked on the cases of Mommy Tina Credito (peasant women leader of Naic, arrested in June 2007), Nanay Ude Rubrico, Tagaytay 5, and others concerning Human Rights work.

She is known by numerous Government officials and religious people as well. She is well known as Kalai, a name given by her dear friends way back in College.

 

Rommel Valdez, peasant leader 

Poverty and oppression are the hall marks of the travails of Rommel Valdez, first as a rural youth from Northern Luzon in search of the veritable greener pastures in the metropolis, then as a working student in the factories of Laguna who was retrenched due to production cutbacks, and finally as a peasant in Cavite who was evicted of his farm due to speculative land-use conversion.

After finishing high school in his hometown, Rommel left Isabela at the age of 16 to look for possible employment in the cities and augment his family’s income in the province. Armed only with perseverance and youthful optimism to solve the grinding poverty and oppression, Rommel worked in several factories in Cabuyao and Sta. Rosa, Laguna for six years as a machine operator, while finishing an electrician’s course in a vocational school in Calamba in the process.

In 1986, Rommel was retrenched from the factory after a long-drawn strike, which coincided with his marriage in the same year. The young couple decided to raise their family in the hometown of his wife, Yolanda Valdez in Inchikan, Silang, Cavite and live as farmers.

But as if Fate willed it, barangay Inchikan and the town of Silang were in the crosshairs of big real estate corporations in Manila as prime targets for conversion into high-end residential subdivisions and golf courses for the rich and the famous, as the big-budgeted, Japanese-backed ”Project CALABARZON” got off the ground in 1990. By mid-1990s, most of brgy Inchikan’s once lush farms were fenced and converted into the so-called ”South Forbes Golf City”, a huge residential-recreational subdivision for the AB market. Rommel’s family was one of those who were evicted out of their farmlands in the process of the conversion.

But the conversion of Inchikan’s farms was marked by duplicity and fraud in the contract, which the corporation called as ”joint venture” and in the payments of ”disturbance compensation” to the affected families. In 2002, affected farmers started reviewing the project, for it did not deliver on its promises of jobs and most of the lands were still undeveloped because of the downtrend in the real estate sector at that time.

Rommel became one of the active leaders in this peasant struggle in Inchikan. By 2005, the farmers consolidated into an organization called ”Samahan ng Mamamayan sa Inchikan, Silang, Kabite” or SAMACHISKA to be able to effectively pursue their common demands. Rommel was first elected as vice president, but he subsequently assumed the presidency of the association when its president resigned. Under his leadership, SAMACHISKA sued the real estate company for damages and reversion of land – an unthinkable legal step 10 years before!

Given his active role in the local struggle in his home village, Rommel was chosen in 2006 as one of the officers of the Samahang Magsasaka sa Silang Cavite or SAMASCA, the municipal peasant association in Silang, working for the preservation of the remaining farmlands of Silang. Concurrently, he was appointed para-legal officer of the provincial peasant federation, KAMAGSASAKA-KA in October 2007 by virtue of his knowledge of agrarian laws and procedures.

Rommel also serves as the official spokesperson of the KAMAGSASAKA-KA, after its spokesperson, Mr. Rogelio Galit took a leave of absence due to his severe ailment in early 2008. As the federation’s official spokesperson, he is an active participant in peasant mobilizations at various levels of the organization.

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