Duterte blames NPA for Sagay massacre
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has pointed to the New People’s Army (NPA) as perpetrators in the killing of nine farmers in Sagay, Negros Occidental, saying it is the rebels’ way of discrediting the government.
Nine sugar farmers, who were members of the militant National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), were killed in Barangay Bulanon on October 20.
In a speech during the distribution of certificates of land ownership to farmers in Region 10 in Cagayan de Oro City, Duterte said it is common for the Reds to kill their own troops and blame it on the government.
“The style of the communists is they kill their own comrades and blame in on the [government],” Duterte said.
He added that he was supposed to personally condole with the families of the slain sugar farm workers on October 24 but his plane failed to take off because of a thunderstorm.
But, Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison, in a statement accused Duterte of being “in cahoots” with the big landlord Marañon Jr. [Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo] and other landlords in Negros.
“Duterte is using the brute power of the state to defend his fellow landlords and cover up their crimes against the farm workers and peasants,” Sison said.
Ex-RPAs as suspects
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front (NDF)–Negros has named four former members of the rebel faction, Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA), as the suspects in the killing of the nine sugar farm workers.
Former priest-turned rebel Frank Fernandez, spokesman for NDF-Negros, in a statement sent to local media on November 1, named the alleged killers as Vito Lotrago, Eduardo Linugon, Rexi Robles and a certain Rako, said to be former members of the mercenary RPA but now active members of the Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA).
Fernandez said the identity of the suspects was a product of an “exhaustive investigation” by the Roselyn Pelle Command of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front.
He added, “It is common knowledge that for decades the Marañon family and their kin (the Tolentinos, Sumbincos, Lumaynos, Zarosas, Javelosas, Jaojocos and Cuevas) have maintained and expanded their land holdings in Sagay City and neighboring towns and cities using violence and brutality by conniving with the AFP/PNP and employing armed mercenaries like the RPA and SCAA.”
AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said the NPA had a hand in the massacre, to put Duterte and the government in a bad light.
He said the NFSW recruited the victims to be killed.
WITH A REPORT FROM EUGENE Y. ADIONG