Press Release
June 7, 2009


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today condemned the slaying of farmer-leader Rene Penas, who was at the forefront of the campaign to persuade Congress to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Pimentel said Penas is a selfless and courageous leader who dedicated his life to the emancipation of farmers from the bondage of tenancy to improve their lives through economic opportunities that will open up to them by acquiring ownership of the lands they are tilling.

"In providing leadership to exploited and marginalized farmers in their quest for social justice and economic upliftment, Rene Penas made a lot of sacrifices and did not waver in fighting for his cause despite the threats to his life. It is unfortunate that his struggle should lead to his death at the hands of assassins, obviously hired by vested interests who were determined to frustrate the noble cause he was fighting for," he said.

Penas, 5l, led the l,700 kilometer march of scored of landless farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon in 2007 to dramatize their plight and to force the management of the Quisumbing Estate to give up ownership of disputed agricultural lands in favor of the tenants.

Pimentel said Rene Penas perished at a time when Congress, in response to the appeal of protesting farmers, has approved the five-year extension of CARP to allow the distribution of l.3 million more hectares of farmlands to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries.

For this breakthrough alone, he said Rene Penas did not die in vain.

He called on law enforcement authorities to leave no stone unturned in unmasking and hunting down the perpetrators of the Penas murder so that they can be brought to the bar of justice.

Pimentel said the death of Rene Penas can be partly blamed on the Arroyo government, as he criticized its halfhearted efforts in solving and stopping extra-judicial killings of political activists. He said the failure to prosecute the culprits in these summary executions, especially men in uniform, has only emboldened malevolent forces in continuing the orgy of killings and terrorizing freedom-loving citizens who are resisting tyranny and suppression of democratic rights.

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