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GOV’T STATEMENTS ‘GARBAGE, OUTRIGHT LIES’

CPP: Communist rebels not behind Sagay attack

/ 05:17 AM October 24, 2018

MASSACRE SITE A group of farmers and relatives inspects the makeshift shelter at a sugarcane plantation in Sagay City, where nine farmers died following an attack by armed men on Saturday night. —BRYAN MORDEN

SAGAY CITY — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has dismissed as outright lies the statements of Malacañang claiming that the New People’s Army (NPA) was behind the killing of nine farm workers at Hacienda Nene in this city in Negros Occidental province on Saturday.

The CPP, in a statement, said a special people’s court would be convened to “try the criminals behind the massacre and heed the cry for justice of the peasants and farm workers.”

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It described the statements of Philippine National Police officials, claiming that the NPA was behind the attack, as “garbage.” It said communist rebels would never put the people in harm’s way.

The CPP instead blamed landlords who opposed agrarian reform for the killing.

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Peace talks

“They (landlords) do not want to accede even a square inch of land to the peasants who are merely demanding the right to plant food crops in the small patches of land between or around the vast sugarcane haciendas,” it said.

In a separate statement, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said the aborted peace negotiations would have addressed agrarian reform problems in the country and prevented attacks on farmers.

“President Duterte and the militarists in his Cabinet have blood on their hands for terminating the peace negotiations that would have resulted in the adoption of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms section on agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD),” Juliet de Lima, chair of the NDFP reciprocal working committee on social and economic reforms, said in a statement on Tuesday.

De Lima said the draft ARRD, which was scheduled for signing in November last year before Mr. Duterte canceled the peace talks, provided for free distribution of big landholdings and estates, including lands targeted by the government for distribution.

She said the killing of the nine farmers in Sagay brought to 197 the total number of agrarian-related deaths under the Duterte administration.

NBI probe

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De Lima said: “As long as a handful of landlords monopolize land ownership and perpetuate their powers through force, the ‘Sagay 9’ will not be the last victims of agrarian-related violence.”

In Manila, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own investigation of the Sagay massacre.

Guevarra said the Department of Justice, which oversees the NBI, would not wait for the results of the police’s investigation of the killing before starting its probe.

“If we think that the circumstances require our immediate participation, we shall conduct our own investigation,” he said on Tuesday. —Reports from Carla P. Gomez, Delfin T. Mallari Jr. and Dona Z. Pazzibugan

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TAGS: communist rebels, CPP, Juliet de Lima, NDFP, Negros Occidental massacre, NPA, Sagay massacre
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