An agrarian reform beneficiary died yesterday in a shooting incident in Purok Maligaya, Brgy. General Luna, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, that was reported by the police to have been triggered by a land conflict.
The victim, identified by the Sagay police as Ronald Manlanat, a member of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds.
Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, Sagay City police chief, said yesterday that the killing of Manlanat, 30, was reported to have been caused by a conflict among agrarian reform beneficiaries, with the suspect in the killing also a member of the organization.
The victim was cultivating the sugarcane plantation of Elisia Cara-at, also a Certificate of Land Ownership awardee,when he was shot several times by the suspect, with an M-16 assault rifle, pol;ice investigation showed.
The killing of Manlanat came a day after four farmers, including three of themwomen, were also shot and killed allegedly by security guards hired by a landowner in Siaton, Negros Oriental.
Mansueto said they have two persons of interest in the killing of Manlanat, that the police suspect was triggered by the unequal sharing of the land awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform.
After the awarding of the land, he said the NFSW members organized themselves into a cooperative he called Panaghi-usasaPurokMaligayaAsosasyon, that later broke into two factions.
The Sagay police recovered 15 spent shells of an M-16 rifle at the scene of incident.
Mansueto also said they were surprised by the actuation of the family and relatives, who opposed further investigations by the police.
Before the incident, he said their investigations showed that the group of the victim had been warned and threatened that something bad may happen to one of their members.
NFSW Secretary General Christian Tuayon in a press release said the killing of Manlanat and other recent atrocities against sugar workers and farmers must be taken seriously by the PNP.
“The climate of impunity under President Duterte seems to have clearly exploded from bad to worst. The policy of killings in the present administration is at its heights. The creeping shadow of military rule in the countryside seems ready to explode anytime soon.” Tuayon added.
“The killing of Manlanat is a chilling reminder that the new counter-insurgency program of the Duterte administration called OplanKapayapaan is no different from those of previous regimes,” he said.
“There can be no peace until gangster groups are disarmed and disbanded. There can be no justice if the mercenary AFP and corrupt police force still exist to protect the interests of landlords and land grabbers. There can be no peace if hunger and poverty continuously hound the lives of sugar workers families”, Tuayon said in the press release.*GPB
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