House asked to probe Negros massacre

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2018 04:39 PM

MANILA - The Makabayan bloc has asked the House of Representatives Committees on Agrarian Reform and Human Rights to conduct a joint inquiry in aid of legislation on the October 20, 2018 “massacre” of 9 farm workers inside Hacienda Nene, Purok Fire Tree, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

In House Resolution 2262, the bloc recalled that in the morning of October 20, farm workers under the National Federation of Sugar Workers entered the hacienda to cultivate the land. 

Quoting survivors and the initial police report, the lawmakers said at at around 9:30 p.m, around 40 armed men arrived and opened fire on the sugar workers who were resting in their makeshift tent. 

The resolution identified 9 fatalities as Eglicerio Villegas, Morena Mendoza, Marchtel Sumicad and Angelipe Arsenal, an alias Pater, Dodong Laurencio, Neknek Dumaguit, Bingbing Bantigue of Barangay Plaridel and Joemarie Ughayon of Barangay Rafael Barrera.

Two of those who were killed were minors.

Mendoza, Dumaguit and Bantigue were allegedly set on fire by the armed suspects.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate led the bloc in condemning and filing the resolution before giving a press conference at the House of Representatives. 

"This brutal killing is an outrage! There are no words enough to express our deep anger over the massacre of these farmers. Reports came in that these farmers were all shot in the head, and then their dead bodies burned, and then guns were planted on their charred remains. The peasants who were massacred were setting up land cultivation to survive tiempo muerto, the dry season between sugar plantations. What kind of people are able to to do such a monstrosity on other human beings? Gutom na silang nabuhay, gutom silang pinatay, at binaboy pa ang kanilang katawan," he said.

“We call on the House of Representatives to conduct an immediate probe on this matter,” Zarate added.

For Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, being dubbed a rebel does not justify violence against them.

"The classic excuse that the farmers who were fired on were armed rebels or are linked with them - whether it's Albayalde, Panelo or DAR secretary Castriciones' differing versions - is an outdated tactic. These were exactly the same words to justify the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2002 and Kidapawan massacre in 2016. Not only were the claims disproved by the survivors; it begs the question: when did being a rebel justify mass murder and indiscriminate violence, to minors and youths even?" she said.

In a separate statement, ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro strongly condemned the massacre.

"We strongly condemn the brutal killing of the nine sugar farm workers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental," Tinio said. 

"We demand justice for the killing of these sugar farm workers who where simply asserting their rights. They launched the Bungkalan as part of an agrarian reform assertion campaign to fight hunger. We strongly condemn the red-tagging by the military and the police of the victims of this brutal massacre," he added.

Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao and Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao also condemned the act.

“The attack against peasant continues, from the Sagay 9 massacre to the illegal arrest of the Nueva Ecija four, Laguna 5. Ironically, Duterte yet again (is) calling for peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines but continues to allow the AFP, PNP and it’s para-military backed groups to sow barbarity against peasants asserting their right to land. He even undermined the main content of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reform (CASER), the free land distribution. Anakpawis demands justice to the Sagay 9 massacre victims. Swift and impartial investigation should immediately be conducted. Part of the effort, the Anakpawis and the Makbayan bloc will file a House Resolution to investigate the massacre," Casilao said.

"Mariin kong kinukundena ang walang-awang pagpatay sa siyam na magsasaka ng Sagay City, Negros Occidental. Dapat may managot sa krimeng ito. Kasabay nito ay ang paghingi rin natin ng pananagutan sa sistemang pumapatay sa mga magsasaka ng ating bayan," Bag-ao said in a statement.