Ka Eddie Billones, spokesperson of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), has recently passed away due to health complications. He was 60 years old.
KASAMA-TK says that his death was due to gastrointestinal bleeding. Last March 31, he suffered from a heart attack. Then on April 14, he was hospitalized due to kidney failure and COVID-19.
Billiones was diagnosed with a multitude of sicknesses, primarily Rheumatic Heart Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 5. According to Anakbayan Calamba, he also suffered from hypertension, unstable angina, an ulcer, bilateral pleural effusion, and lumbar spondylosis.
His conditions prompted fellow progressives from GABRIELA cultural arm Malayang Kababaihan ng Tanghalan and Panday Sining Bacoor among others to seek financial donations to pay for his medical expenses.
According to Malayang Kababaihan ng Tanghalan, Billiones had to endure two to three dialysis sessions and expensive medications.
Billones was one of the most vocal activists from the agricultural sector in the Southern Tagalog (ST) region, advocating for pro-peasant campaigns such as land reform, food sovereignty, and peasant rights.
Ka Eddie participated in several demonstrations and forums all over the region, informing others about the situation of Southern Tagalog farmers.
“Tuloy-tuloy ang paglabag sa kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka ng Timog Katagalugan. Nagluluksa ang sambayanang Pilipino sa dinaranas na hagupit ng EO [Executive Order] 70 ng Rehimeng Duterte. Walang silbi ang administrasyong ito sa pagbibigay ng tunay na reporma sa lupa,” he said during an International Human Rights Day mobilization in 2019 led by ST progressives.
EO 70 refers to the national government’s “whole-of-nation” approach in theoretically eradicating communist armed conflict. A measure that has since been condemned largely to the increase in red-tagging cases and even killings
Several groups such as Defend Yulo Farmers and his very own organization have also expressed militant salutations in light of his death.
“Nakakalungkot man isipin na sa edad ng 60 ay pumanaw na si Ka Eddie dahil sa sakit. Ang huling pangako niya sa mga magsasaka sa Yulo ay tatapak siya muli sa lupang pagmamay-ari nila,” Defend Yulo Farmers said. [P]
Photos from KASAMA-TK and Pola Rubio