HRW: Sagay massacre shows rights abuses in PH go beyond 'drug war'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2018 09:43 AM

MANILA - The massacre of 9 farmers at the Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental shows that human rights abuses in the country go beyond the administration's war on drugs, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

In a statement released Tuesday, Carlos Conde, the group's researcher for Asia, also called on President Rodrigo Duterte's administration to carry out a credible and impartial investigation into the killing of the peasants.

"Considerable international attention has rightly focused on the unending extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in President Rodrigo Duterte's 'war on drugs.' But Sagay Massacre highlights the fact that serious rights abuses in the Philippines are not limited to the 'drug war,'" he said.

The fatalities in Sagay were part of the Leftist group National Federation of Sugar Workers. They occupied the hacienda as part of their "Bungkalan" campaign to cultivate the idle lands covered by agrarian reform for their survival.

They were gunned down while they were having dinner inside their tents last Saturday.

Conde lamented the continuing violence against farmers, citing the 1985 massacre peasants in Escalante, Negros Occidental. He said security forces in the province have also targeted farmers and activists, accusing them of being communist rebels.

The Sagay massacre, he stressed, only spotlights the long-running struggle of Filipino farmers for land.

"The Duterte administration needs to promptly, credibly, and impartially carry out an investigation and appropriately prosecute those responsible—and act to prevent further agrarian violence," Conde said.