MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday tagged communist rebels behind the killing of sugar farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, on October 20.
Duterte alleged that it was the “style” of communists to kill their recruits or comrades and then blame the government for the killings.
“Iyung style ba ng komunista, sila lang naman ang pumatay ng kanilang mga kasamahan tapos ibintang pa talaga . . . bobo talaga ’tong mga NPA,” Duterte said in his native Cebuano in a speech before agrarian reform beneficiaries in Cagayan de Oro City.
(It’s the style of communists to kill their comrades and pin the blame on us.)
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde earlier said communist rebels could be behind the killings. He was backed by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr., who said the rebels were out to discredit the government.
The fatalities, members of the militant group National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), had occupied the hacienda as part of an agrarian reform assertion campaign called "Bungkalan,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde claimed "all indications" suggest the participation of the New People's Army in "Bungkalan" that allegedly aims to "create untoward incidents then blame it on the government.
"All indications suggest the participation of the CPP/NPA in pursuit of their 'Oplan Bungkalan at Okupasyon,' a grand design to occupy private and government property using their mass base and to create untoward incident then blame it on the government," the PNP chief said.
In his speech, the President also gave fresh warnings against left-linked farmers seeking to take over idle lands.
“Do not confiscate or seize or occupy ’yung mga lupa na merong may-ari. ’Wag ninyong gawin na meron mga nakatira at inyong agawin,” he said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines has condemned Duterte’s previous threat to have land grabbers shot, as it maintained that state-sponsored paramilitary forces were behind the killing.