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PNP files multiple murder case vs suspects in farmers’ massacre in Negros Occidental

/ 05:33 PM October 27, 2018

A group of farmers and relatives inspects the makeshift shelter at a sugarcane plantation in Sagay City, where nine farmers were killed by armed men on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo by BRYAN MORDEN)

Updated @ 7:01 p.m., Oct.  27, 2018

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has filed a multiple murder case against two recruiters of the nine farmers who were massacred last Oct. 20 in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, according to Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of the Western Visayas Police Regional Office.

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John Bulalacao said the complaints were filed last Friday, Oct. 26, against Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, who recruited the farmers to join the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) days before they were killed in Hacienda Nene.

READ: 9 sugarcane workers gunned down in Negros Occidental

“Yesterday, Sagay City Police Station already filed a case of multiple murder against the recruiters,” he said in a statement.

He said the two were criminally liable as principals by indispensable cooperation and conspiracy.

The two conspired with an armed group and other John Does in executing the killing of the nine without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves, Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, acting director of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said.

The police submitted seven complaint-affidavits and two affidavits of witnesses to the Sagay City Prosecutor Office, he said.

8 witnesses

According to Bulalacao, the police has already secured eight witnesses on the shooting incident who already gave their statements. He said one of them is a 14-year-old witness who survived the killing.

“All of them were willing and voluntarily signed their affidavits including the minor whom we turned over to the Local Social Welfare Development Officer who also witnessed the taking of the minor’s statement by our investigators,” Bulalacao said.

John Bulalacao

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of the Western Visayas Police Regional Office (Photo by CATHRINE GONZALES / INQUIRER.net)

He noted that the statements of the witnesses point to one common ground — that “the recruiters deceived the victims and enticed them to join [NFSW] by promising them a parcel of land once their cause succeeds.”

He also said that investigation revealed that the farmers were victimized by the “Oplan Bungkalan” or “Oplan Okupasyon” of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

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He said this strategy preys on farmers by promising them land “not knowing that they become part of the greater force that would generate outrage against the government.”

READ: Negros farmers’ massacre a ploy to discredit gov’t – Albayalde

Bulalacao also slammed human rights defenders whom he said persuaded families of the victims to refrain from cooperating in the investigation.

He vowed that the PNP would surely bring justice on the massacre of the farmers. /atm

READ: NPA involved in Sagay City slay? ‘Funny, scary,’ says farmers’ group
Task force

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. announced Friday the creation of a special task force to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the Sagay 9 massacre “so that real truth and proper justice shall be served to the families of the victims at the soonest time possible.”

“Special Task Force Hustisya” will be composed of representatives of the social action centers of the dioceses of San Carlos and Bacolod, the provincial public attorney’s office, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office, in close cooperation with the National Bureau of Investigation, and the national offices of the departments of justice and agrarian reform, he said.

The special task force will make sure that those responsible for the Sagay 9 killings would be brought before the bar of justice, together with those who planned, organized, agitated and manipulated the victims, he said.

“I will resolutely work that justice will be served and no amount of intimidation or threat can prevent me from bringing before the bar of justice against those who are responsible and involved in Sagay 9 incident,” the governor said.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, accompanied by Marañon, on Saturday delivered financial and livelihood assistance to the families of the nine massacre victims at the wake at the Sagay City gym.

Piñol said he told the families of the victims that he was only there to provide assistance on behalf of the Duterte administration.

“I said that the government under President Rody Duterte would like to see that justice is served and that whoever was behind the crime will be punished,“ he added. /atm

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TAGS: communist rebels, CPP, John Bulalacao, National Federation of Sugar Workers, Negros Occidental massacre, NPA, NSFW, Oplan Bungkalan, Oplan Okupasyon, Rene Manlangit, Rogelio Arquillo, Sagay massacre
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