Comic strip pays tribute to slain farmers in central Philippines

October 28, 2022

Artists and peasant groups released a comic strip to pay tribute to the nine farmers who were killed in the central Philippines four years ago.

This week, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) posted a downloadable version of the artwork on various social media platforms.

“Many Filipinos are unaware of their story and why they were killed. Through comics, a combination of drawings and texts, we want to retell the narrative of the farmers,” said Angelo Suarez, a visual artist and UMA volunteer.

The comic strip illustrated the events that transpired on October 20, 2018, after some 40 members of the NFSW started working on a piece of land for their collective farming in Sagay town, Negros Occidental province. 

Later that day, at around 9:45 pm, dozens of gunmen killed nine sugarcane farmers, including women and minors, while they were resting in a makeshift tent. 

Suarez said art forms, such as comic strips, “is a powerful medium to memorialize the narrative of the farmers” and “an effective way of disseminating information” to the public.

The group UMA renewed its call for justice for the nine farmers and condemned the government’s inaction amid the “ongoing state impunity.” 

John Milton Lozande, spokesperson of the group, said the past administration “had only red tagged the victims, harassed their families, and even attacked their legal counsel” instead of finding the actual perpetrators.

He said between the past Marcos dictatorship in the 1907s and the new Marcos administration, “there has been no pause in the militarization of Negros island… only intensification.” 

The comic strip was made by artists Adam David, Josel Nicolas, Apol Sta. Maria, Marcel Antonio, and Bong Redila.

UMA volunteer and artist Donna Miranda said the creators and the organizations are already “planning to mass produce the comics and distribute it to peasant communities.” 

“This is not just an artwork but also a form of protest against social injustices, extrajudicial killings, state fascism, and the culture of impunity,” she said. 

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