MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday warned farmers with links to communist rebels against taking over idle land, issuing caution just days after the killing of 9 farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
Duterte said he would not hesitate to evict farmers who would take over idle land and are backed up by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
“Inaagaw nila 'yung... may mga tenants na original, pagkatapos ng harvest they go in and seize control using violence and intimidation, backed up by NPA,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
(They take over the... there are original tenants, after their harvest, they go in and seize control using violence and intimidation, backed up by the NPA.)
“This has happened several times, please do not do it again. Kasi (Because) the next time if I hear a single incident, I will have you evicted. I’m addressing now the nation, and the communists, and the left. Pipilitin ko kayo (I will force you). Please do not resist violently. I’m ready to do anything to establish order.”
Duterte issued this warning to alleged communist-backed farm workers after the killing of 9 farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Saturday, Oct. 20.
The fatalities, all members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), were having dinner inside tents at Hacienda Nene in Sagay town when they were shot dead.
The President did not connect his warning to the Sagay killings. He only noted that he was supposed to visit the wake for the victims on Tuesday but had to call this off due to bad weather.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said government investigation appeared to point to NPA rebels as the perpetrators.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, said "all indications" suggest the participation of the NPA in "bungkalan," the collective cultivation of idle land. He alleged that the activity aims "to create [an] untoward incident then blame it on the government."
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the killing of the sugar farmers was part of the “Red October” plot to oust the Duterte government.
The Communist Party of the Philippines has denied the government officials’ claim.
“Now they are lying in accusing the NPA as perpetrators of the Sagay Massacre. They lie unscrupulously. They lie barefaced. They lie again and again,” the CPP said in a statement.
“Duterte and the AFP are peddling Big Lies to drown the clamor of the peasants for land. The bloodthirsty Duterte and his military officials are staging high drama in expressing sympathy to the victims of the Sagay Massacre. Duterte gave them some cash and cellphones, clearly unsympathetic to the clamor of the peasants and farm workers who are demanding, not cellphones, but the right to till the land for food.”
According to the CPP, the Sagay massacre is the 13th case of “mass killing by AFP troops and AFP-organized paramilitary groups.”