Farmers provide food yet gov’t welcomes them with bullets — 2 solons
While farmers provide food for the people, the “government welcomes them with bullets.”
This was how ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro condemned on Monday the massacre of nine sugarcane workers, including two minors and four women, in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Saturday night.
The progressive lawmakers also slammed the military’s supposed “red-tagging” of the sugar farm workers who were launching “Bungkalan” as part of an “agrarian reform assertion campaign to fight hunger.”
“While the farmers who cultivate the food for our nation strive to end their own hunger, our government welcomes them with bullets instead of supporting them and hearing their calls for genuine land reform,” Tinio said in a statement.
“The nine victims added to the lengthening list of peasants being victims of the extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration which have already reached 163 all over the country,” he added.
Castro meanwhile lambasted the military over its “false and malicious reports” claiming the victims were armed.
“The police and military have been trying to condition the minds of the public that killing farmers is okay while protesting and fighting for rights a criminal act,” Castro said.
The two opposition lawmakers also demanded an immediate and impartial probe into the massacre.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate for his part said the incident “puts into the spotlight the glaring need for genuine agrarian reform,” stressing that it was not the first massacre of farmers.
“We remember Escalante Massacre in 1985, the Mendiola Massacre in 1987, the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in 2004, the Kidapawan Massacre in 2016, and the thousands of other farmers killed in the context of the peasant struggle for land reform. Until that is resolved, the peasant struggle and the unrest in the countryside will not subside,” Zarate said.
Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao also said someone should be held accountable for the crime.
“Dapat may managot sa krimeng ito. Kasabay nito ay ang paghingi rin natin ng pananagutan sa sistemang pumapatay sa mga magsasaka ng ating bayan,” she said.
(Someone should be held accountable for this crime. With this, we also ask for accountability from the system that kills the farmers of the country.)
Police had identified the victims as Eglicerio Villegas, 36; Angelipe Arsenal, 47; Paterno Baroy, 48; Rene Laurencio Sr.; Morena Mendoza, 48; Marcelina Dumaguit, Romme Bantigue, 41; Jomarie Ughayon Jr., 16; and Marchtel Sumicad, 17.
They were all residents of Sagay City and members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Hacienda Nene, Purok Pine Tree, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City.
According to NFSW, the nine farmers together with others had just begun working in the 75-hectare hacienda on Saturday morning.
By 9:00 p.m., unidentified men opened fire at the farm hut where the nine farm workers were resting, NFSW added.
Western Visayas police director Chief Insp. John Bulalacao has blamed the attack on communist New People’s Army (NPA).
But the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives earlier said the military and militia forces could be responsible for the killings.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said he would initiate a House inquiry into the massacre. /je
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.