A Special Investigation Task Group was formed by the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office to investigate the murder of nine civilians Saturday night in Brgy. Bulanon, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
The Department of Agrarian Reform also formed a task force, composed of DAR officials as well as implementing agencies of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, to look into the incident.
“I have created a special task force to look into the matter so that we will be able to get to the bottom of this, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, said in a statement.
Supt. Glenn Provido, NOCPPO deputy provincial police director for Operations, said yesterday that they will observe a self-imposed timeline of a month, to solve the Sagay killings.
Provido said they also sent some personnel from NOCPPO to assist the Sagay police in their investigations of the incident, as they are looking into all angles and possibilities to establish the real motives of the shooting incident.
Based on testimonies of witnesses, about 12 unidentified armed men were involved in the shooting incident, who also burned three of the victims, police investigation showed.
The victims, who were newly-recruited members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers, entered and occupied a portion of the Farm of Carmen Tolentino in Hacienda Nene, Brgy. Bulanon, Sagay City, before to the shooting incident Saturday night.
He did not elaborate on details of “persons of interest” , who are subjects of their investigation.
Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, Sagay City police chief, yesterday said they have already completed the gathering of statements from witnesses and survivors
Senior Inspector Aireen Cordua, NOCPPO spokesperson, said in a statement she issued that the victims were recruited to join NFSW on that day, several hours before the shooting incident, and proceeded to the area to take over and cultivate the land, knowing that they were not yet agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Based on the testimonies of survivors, a recruiter of the victims informed them before the shooting incident, , that he will be out for a while. When he disappeared, the shooting started, Cordua said.
What was the relation of the recruiter to the suspects? Cordua asked, adding that the recruiter was already nowhere to be found.
Who is the interested party behind the senseless shooting? Cordua further asked.
But she stressed that they are considering all angles, including land conflict of the landowner and her selected beneficiaries against farmers of NFSW who are claiming the same portion of the land, and other possibilities to establish the real motives for the incident.
Cordua raised the possibility that the victims were made sacrificial lambs for another infamous but popular uprising against the administration for the revolutionary movement to rise with fame, gaining more recruits from disgruntled and aggrieved farmers living in the area.
Meanwhile, the military assailed former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, as well as the communist rebels, for tagging the Armed Forces and militiamen as the killers of the nine civilians in Negros Occidental.
Castriciones also said the AFP and PNP had no involvement in the killing of the nine civilians in Sagay City.
In a statement yesterday, Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said, “As expected, the AFP will again be blamed by the Reds and their sympathizers for the reported shooting incidents” in Sagay City.
“We strongly condemn the murder of the sugar farmers. The killing was not committed by soldiers. Even Colmenares knows that. Sadly, he has become an expert in pointing the guilty finger at the military,” the police said.
Dolina also brushed aside the AFP critics’ claim that this incident resulted from the “red tagging” of the victims and their group, the National Federation of Sugar Workers.
“Unfortunately, the so-called links between NFSW and communist insurgents are true. No less than rebel returnees had validated that,” he said.
Dolina also hit the New People’s Army for using the Sagay incident in its anti-AFP propaganda campaign.
“They’re prioritizing propaganda instead of seeking justice for the dead sugar farmers. They are focusing on blaming the AFP instead of finding out who the killers are. That’s really pathetic,” he added.*
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