October 26, 2018
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, 0999-7721233
Karapatan: Investigate role of local gov’t officials, private armies in Sagay 9 massacre
Karapatan demands an independent, thorough investigation on the most plausible role of the private army of the Marañons composed of the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and mercenaries who are former Revolutionary Protelarian Army (RPA) members in the massacre of the nine farmers in Sagay, Negros Occidental.
(Photo: Members of the recently concluded National Fact Finding Mission in Sagay, Negros Occidental call for an impartial, thorough investigation on the role of local government officials and their private armies, particularly the involvement of SCAA elements in the Sagay 9 massacre).
The SCAA is commonly known to protect haciendas in Negros and are under the control of the local government. They are actively recruiting former RPA members. In fact, the local housing project in Brgy. Bulanon is allotted for SCAA members.
SCAA members are also suspects to the killing of Flora Gemola, the late city chairwoman of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and Ronald Manalat, also an NFSW member. Gemola was killed on December 21, 2017 in Hacienda Susan, her body burned, while Manlanat was brutally shot in the head in Hacienda Joefred on February 22 this year. Both haciendas are located in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. The same pattern of brutal killings can be seen in the injuries sustained by the victims and the witnesses’ accounts, where 10-15 armed men were involved.
Sagay Mayor Alfredo Marañon III, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr., their relative Allan Simbingco, an arrendador in Hacienda Nene who knew of the farmers’ plan to conduct land cultivation activities in the said hacienda, and named landowner Carmen Tolentino, should all likewise be accountable and should subject themselves to a full and impartial investigation.
We also demand that the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Marañons stop harassing the relatives of the victims and survivors of the massacre, as well as communities in Sagay in their idiotic but dangerous efforts to cover-up the real perpetrators of the massacre and spin their absurd conspiracies. Their underhanded attempts to intimidate the relatives and survivors, as well as members of the community in Sagay, including a 14-year old minor, are signs that they are desperate to absolve the murderers. If these forces and personalities continue to muddle the investigation through their underhanded haciendero style fascist means, there can be no justice for the Sagay 9. Moreover, a repeat of this brutal massacre will be inevitable if perpetrators are protected.
We agree with the members of the National Fact Finding Mission (NFFM) that led an investigation on October 24-25, 2018 that there is no evidence that suggests nor proves the involvement of the CPP-NPA and the NFSW in the said massacre. Instead, the AFP, PNP, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Maranons are guilty of victim-blaming, malice and cover-up of their accountability when they concoct these baseless accusations to fit their idiotic narrative on Red October. Let us be reminded that prior to the massacre, these government entities and figures have harassed and red-tagged the members of NFSW, subjecting them to graver circumstances and dangers that led to the massacre.
State forces have done this a thousand times – shift the blame to those other than their guilty selves. As long as this climate of impunity exists, more brazenly under the Duterte regime, there can be no justice for the Sagay 9 and all peasants massacred in their fight for land.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.