NPA involved in Sagay City slay? ‘Funny, scary,’ says farmers’ group
The allegation of government authorities that the New People’s Army (NPA) is behind the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental is both funny and scary, Butch Losande of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) said Tuesday.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said they are looking at the possible involvement of the NPA in the deadly shooting of nine farmers in Hacienda Nene by around five to seven men on Saturday.
Losande shrugged off this claim, noting that authorities had also said earlier that the NFSW, the organization of the slain farmers, are sympathizers of the NPA.
“Iyon lang po ang nakakatawa at tsaka baka po hindi nila masyado ni-rehearse iyong thread nila, kasi nagkabuhol-buhol ang mga pahayag ng PNP,” he said in an interview over the phone.
(That is funny, and it seems like they have not rehearsed their thread because the statements of the PNP vary.)
He said the government is only crafting a scenario to put to blame to communist rebels and save the real perpetrators of the killing.
According to Losande, the NFSW strongly believes that former elements of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) who are now members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) or militiamen are the masterminds of the shooting incident.
Losande said that since the farmers doubled down on their efforts to follow-up the land reform coverage in 2014, the militiamen have been threatening them to give up their bid to own lands.
He added that some members of the RPA are being used as private goons by the Tolentino family who owns Hacienda Nene.
Some of them are being paid by the Tolentino family to threaten the farmers to turn their backs on the land reform, he added.
Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Regional Director of the PNP in Western Visayas, earlier said that the land dispute between the militiamen and the farmers a few years ago could be the “fourth angle” in the massacre.
He said the landowner and other claimants could be the perpetrators of the incident.
Farmer’s group a legal front of NPA?
Losande also denied the accusation of PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde that their organization is being used by the NPA as a legal front to obtain lands and money.
“Iyan ang nakakatakot. Sa kanilang sinasabi na legal front, symphatizer ng NPA, parang sinasabi nila na justified ang massacre,” he lamented.
(That’s what is scary, that we are branded as the legal front of sympathizer of the NPA. It’s like saying that the massacre is justified.)
He said Albayalde’s pronouncement means that authorities view the legitimate demands of farmers on land reform as a crime.
He also noted that the slain sugarcane workers only wanted to till the land to have food on their tables.
“[Albayalde’s statement means that] dapat pala para sa kanila, pwede nang patayin, pwede nang i-massacre (that they can be killed, they can be massacred),” he also said.
Losande likewise lamented the possible prejudice among the police since they already ruled that their organization is part of the NPA even before the conclusion of the investigation.
The PNP, for its part, earlier claimed that the killing could be a move to discredit the government. /ee