MANILA — Amid numerous angles in Sagay Massacre the police and the Duterte administration say they will look into, peasant and rights groups said an independent probe on the massacre is all the more necessary now. Peasant women’s group Amihan in another statement said an independent probe is required “considering the PNP’s record of machination.”
The Movement Against Tyranny listed the following facts of the case:
1. “The farmers were defenseless. Gunmen attacked as they were resting after tilling portions of Hacenda Nene. After a barrage of bullets, the assailants doused gasoline on their victims and set fire to their bodies.
Bobstil Sumicad, who lost his 17-year old son, Marchstil, said he heard one of the gunmen chasing a wounded farmer and then killed him.
2. The farmers had a claim on the land. They were mostly “dumaan”, old field hands. Some, like Bobstil, had worked in the same plantation since childhood. Their decision to cultivate a portion of Hacenda Nene post-harvest stemmed from an ugly surprise sprung by the Department of Agrarian Reform: the notice of coverage issued in 2014 had been rescinded.
The reason — the “donation” of the land to 25 individuals handpicked by the plantation owners — is what peasant groups call a classic scheme to evade agrarian reform coverage.
The Bungkalan in Hacenda Nene was as much a matter of survival as it was an assertion of right. According to workers, they can earn from P300 to P700 a week for backbreaking labor and so have nothing during “Tiempo Muerto”, the dead season between harvest and the planting of new crop. Hacienda Nene workers negotiated with the lessor to plant vegetables and other staples for their families in the coming lean months.
But instead of harvesting the fruits, the Hacienda Nene farmers got death, their cries for justice met with vilification and spin from the government, the Movement Against Tyranny said.
Officials first tried to blame the victims, echoing the Armed Forces’ claim that the Bungkalan is providing food and logi”stics to the New People’s Army.
In Negros, a land of stark economic and social contrasts, that reasoning reminds the peasants of the excuses for oppressing them under the old dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Then the government tried to tag the NPA in the attack itself. The mockery that greeted this was fully earned, MAT said. “After spinning one tall tale after another to justify their “Red October” crackdown, the government can no longer distinguish between truth and fantasy.”
They see little hope for integrity or transparency in an executive department probe.
The Movement Against Tyranny urges independent legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate to probe the Sagay 9 Massacre.
They likewise urged the Commission on Human Rights to work closely with people’s organizations in tapping independent experts.
The group added that Filipinos must also fight the government’s effort to bar entry to foreign groups and individuals that help local rights organizations.
“The blood on the hands of this regime will not wash off easily. We urge all Filipinos to work together to ensure genuine justice for the Sagay 9 martyrs and to push for real changes that address hunger, landlessness and repression,” MAT said.