MANILA - Nine sugarcane workers who died in a fatal shooting in Negros Occidental may have been killed by their fellow farmers, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said Tuesday.
The fatalities, all members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), reportedly tried to occupy private land in Hacienda Nene, Barangay Bulanon. They were eating dinner inside the tents when they were shot by 5 to 6 gunmen.
"May report kasi ang kapulisan, mayroon ding mga confidential information na natanggap iyung isang undersecretary ko, na ang bumaril daw ay mga mismong kasapi ng samahan na ito," Castriciones told radio DZMM.
(There is a police report and confidential information received by my undersecretary that the gunmen were also members of this organization.)
The massacre victims only became members of the NFSW on the morning of the massacre. They were not tenants of the hacienda, which may have angered the legitimate tillers there, police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde earlier said.
He claimed the NFSW is a legal front of communist rebels to occupy private lands for profit.
The massacre may have been motivated by land dispute, said Albayalde.