MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday pinned the bloody massacre of sugarcane workers in Sagay, Negros Occidental to the alleged ‘Red October’ plot of communist rebels.
AFP Chief of Staff, General Carlito Galvez said there was a concerted effort to taint the image of the military and the government.
“Ang nakikita namin talaga na merong hand talaga ang (What we really see is the) CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army), in terms of design. Considering that we can see the circumstances of deception and laying bait para magkaroon ng (to create a) violent confrontation, is there,” Galvez told reporters.
He explained that the NPA led members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers into the area. After the supposed killing, Galvez said left-leaning personalities took a ride on the issue and blamed the military.
“Immediately after the incident, 7 left-leaning organizations have stated their piece, almost the same. Nandyan si (There was) Joma Sison, Neri Colmenares, Losande. Nandyan din si (There was also) Sarah Elago, Casilao, Alemanaza atsaka yung ibang (and other) organization," he said.
Major General Fernando Trinidad, who is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (J2), said the President’s ouster is under the Left’s ‘Oplan Talsik.’
“Sa Oplan Talsik, gusto nilang magkaroon ng (Under Oplan Talsik, they want to create a) broad alliance... they are the ones instigating it, like itong (this) Movement against Tyranny," he said.
He cited the incidents in Hacienda Luisita and the 2015 Kidapawan incident as templates, which bear similarities to the Sagay massacre.
But when reminded that government agents were among suspects behind Luisita and Kidapawan, Galvez was quick to absolve the military’s involvement.
“All the personnel and ammunition were accounted for. No military is deployed in the area," he said.
The military, meanwhile, admitted their failure to monitor the movement.
“Sometimes, [we] have some limitations. In our rules of engagement, pagka land conflict atsaka po labor conflict (if it's land conflict and labor conflict) we are out, kasi yun po ang inaano po sa amin, we cannot meddle with the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) saka yung DAR (Department of Agriculture)," Galvez said.
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) - of which the slain farmers were members - and the peasants' groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Karapatan, will launch a separate probe.
Their probe "will seek to not only look into the facts of the incident, but more importantly, to situate the massacre in the context that led to it and to recommend ways by which accountability can be sought," the groups said in a statement.
The land was earmarked for redistribution under the government's agrarian reform program, but the plantation owner had used a private security force to intimidate the farmers, according to NFSW. --With Reuters