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Activists call for justice for ‘Sagay 9’

Progressive groups staged a ‘Black Friday Protest’ last October 26 at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) calling for justice for the nine victims of the Sagay City massacre earlier this month.

A candle lightning ceremony was also held to pay tribute to the martyrs of the said massacre.

National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) chairperson Rolando Rillo said that the Rodrigo Duterte government and the military must held accountable for the said massacre.

The landlord Tolentino and Marañon family and their private army are behind the massacre based on the account of the survivors, Rillo added.

NFSW stressed that their land cultivation activities are efforts to alleviate the suffering of farm workers and their families through planting of food to eat especially during dry season.

NFSW said that sugar farm workers only receive a salary of about 300-400 pesos per week and 70 percent of the sugar land earlier awarded to land reform beneficiaries have been leased back to landlords due to the lack of support of the government.

Rillo also scored DAR secretary John Castrisciones for his irresponsible statements justifying the massacre “as self defense” and asked that the secretary be relieved from his post.

The group condemned the Philippine National Police for its attempt to arrest a minor to be used as a witness against the victims and his fellow massacre survivors. # (Video by Joseph Cuevas and Maricon Montajes)

 

NPA on the Sagay massacre: RPA, AFP and landlords did it

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island said the culprits in the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City Saturday evening are “mercenaries” calling themselves the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA) unit stationed in Hacienda Mirasol, Brgy. Baterya, some 2 kilometers from the massacre site.

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the AFP should  stop its “series of heinous lies” as they only exonerate the landlords and their goons who are behind the massacre.

The NPA said the RPA is a renegade band led by Stephen Paduano alias Lualhati Carapali and other “opportunist traitors” who broke away from the NPA during the 1990s.

“The RPA has since operated simultaneously as armed goons of Negros landlords and politicians and auxiliary force of the AFP,” the group, through its local spokesperson Juanito Magbanua, said.

Hacienda Nene (also known as Hacienda Barbara), the site of the massacre where nine farm workers, including two minors, were killed is part of the vast landholdings under the control of the family of incumbent Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr, and his son, Alfredo Marañon III, incumbent mayor of Sagay City, the NPA said.

Its landlords and leaseholders, the Tolentinos and Sumbincos, are related to the Marañons who control Sagay City for many decades, the Communist guerillas added.

“For many decades, Sagay has been Marañon territory. They have used the RPA and SCAA to terrorize and murder defenseless farmers who stand against their despotic reign,” Magbanua said in a statement, adding the Marañons’ offer of a P500,000-reward for the culprits’s identification is “an outrageously barefaced ploy to cover up their tracks.”

The NPA also scored Police Regional Office-6 Director Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office (NOcPPO) director SSupt. Rodolfo Castil and AFP Spokesperson Edgar Arevalo for what they call obvious attempts to gloss over state culpability.

The massacre was immediately downplayed by Castil as a “selective shooting” incident, pointing to some planted evidence of empty shells from a .38 caliber revolver and live shotgun ammunition to insinuate that an exchange of fire between perpetrators and victims transpired.

In Manila, police director general Oscar Albayalde and newly-appointed presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the police and military line the NPAs killed the victims.

“This shameless victim-blaming echoes the lies that the military and police fed the public to absolve themselves of the 2004 massacre of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, the biggest sugarcane estate in the country,” the NPA said.

‘Spreading disinformation’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Negros Island also belied government accusations it was the NPA who attacked the farmers’ campout and pointed to the RPA as the culprits.

In  a statement, NDFP Negros Island spokesperson Frank Fernandez said the people of Negros know very well that the Sagay Massacre was “perpetrated by hired guns, armed by local landlords and emboldened by the climate of impunity and Duterte’s own pronouncements to stifle dissent and kill.”

Fernandez said the public must not be misled into believing that the RPA and the NPA are one and the same.

“The pseudo-revolutionary RPA is now actively integrated as auxiliary force of the AFP since their supposed ‘surrender’ and ‘peace pact’ with the government. The RPA is nothing but a horde of bandits serving as private army to big landlords such as Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr and the Marañon ruling dynasty who have lorded over Sagay City and the whole province of Negros Occidental for generations,” Fernandez said.

The former Catholic priest also condemned the police and the military for spreading disinformation, planting incriminating evidence against the victims and ridiculing their call for genuine land reform.

‘Pet parrot’

Meanwhile, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili accused Panelo of not only serving as the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte but as national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s “pet parrot” as well.

Reacting to Panelo’s claims the nine victims were killed by the NPA to discredit the Duterte government, Agcaoili said Panelo, like Esperon, has no credibility to accuse the revolutionary movement.

“In 2006, Esperon attempted to put one over on UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston by submitting ‘documentary evidence’ purportedly showing that the Left was responsible for the rampant extrajudicial killings of activists under the Arroyo regime,” Agcaoili recalled.

“Alston dismissed the theory as ‘strikingly unconvincing’ and bearing ‘hallmarks of a fabrication’ which ‘cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation’,” he added.

“At least Esperon presented some bogus documents to Professor Alston to pass off as proof of his preposterous lies. Parrot Panelo just manages to be preposterous,” Agcaoili said.

‘On the side of the oppressed’

The NPA said the people are aware they are mainly a peasant army waging agrarian revolution to address the fundamental problem of landlessness and various other forms of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation prevailing in the vast Philippine countryside.

“The NPA is the fighting force of the oppressed masses; it does not carry out senseless killings like state troops and its paramilitary forces,” Gatmaitan said.

The NPA added that the massacre of the victims justify the revolution they have been waging for nearly five decades. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ang ika-sampu

Para sa siyam ng Sagay

 

Masdan ang mga sakadang nakayuko sa lupa

Ang mga yayat nilang katawa’y sanay

Tumiklop mula sa baywang

Tungo sa bagong ararong lupa

Upang magtanim o gumapas ng damo,

Magputol ng tubo o buhatin ang mga ito.

 

Sa halagang isang daang piso.

Kada araw. Araw-araw.

 

Kailangan nilang magsipag.

Ikababawas ng yaman ng mga panginoon

Kung sila’y babagal-bagal, hindi magpapagal.

Huwag na huwag silang magtatangka

Na bawiin ang lupa, ng mga gulay ay tamnan.

Mabibilis ang kanilang kamatayan.

 

Masdan ang nangyari sa siyam

Sa Hacienda Nene ay timbuwang

Silang sariling lupa at, susmaryosep, pagkain

Ay nangarap. Ang paglaban sa kanilang kahirapan

Ay hindi kailanman hahayaan,

Hinding-hindi papayagan.

 

Silang mga nangahas, nagnais na makabangon

Mula sa dantaong pagkakayuko. Sa pusikit na gabi’y niratrat

Tila siyam na darili ng mga kamay

Nakatiklop nang panawan ng buhay.

 

Subalit…

 

May nakalimutan ang maang-maangang panginoon

Sampu ang daliri sa kamay na nakayukom

Ang huli, ang hintuturo, kinakalabit ang gatilyo

Ihahayo na ang ganting punglo.

 

–8:51 n.u.

                                                   24 Oktubre 2018

                                                   Lungsod Quezon

Groups denounce Sagay massacre, abduction of farmer organizer

Human rights advocates held a protest action in front of Camps Aguinaldo and Crame in Quezon City to denounce Saturday’s massacre in Hacienda Nene, Sagay City in Negros Occidental and the abduction of farmer-organizer Joey Flores Sr. in Nueva Ecija last week.

Nine farmers and farm workers, including 2 minors, were killed by suspected SCAA/CAFGU members of the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in the northern Negros island city.

The protesters said they suspect Armed Forces of the Philippines-backed paramilitary and goons carried out the brutal attack.

The protesters also assailed the abduction of Joey Torres Sr., Bayan Muna’s peasant organizer in Central Luzon last week they say was by the Philippine Army. (Video by Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

NFSW: 172 farmer-activists killed under Duterte

The massacre of nine land reform beneficiaries in Sagay City, Negros Occidental Saturday night brought the number of killed farmer-activists to 172 under the Rodrigo Duterte regime, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said.

In condemning the massacre of the nine farmers, the groups blamed the Duterte government as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their repeated “red-baiting of farmers conducting land occupation activities” for the carnage.

“On April 20, 2018 Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army, said that the land cultivation areas (LCA’s) being maintained by agricultural sugar workers and farmers in Negros Island are in fact New People’s Army (NPA) rebels communal farms,” UMA and NFSW secretary general John Milton Lozande said.

The NFSW earlier said that the goal of setting up land cultivation areas is to ward off the inevitable hunger brought by the “Tiempo Muerto” (dead season in the sugar industry) on properties covered by agrarian reform.

The lands subjected to farmers’ occupation remain undistributed and idle, NFSW said.

The farmers wanted to plant vegetables, banana, corn and root crops on these lands to feed their families when there is no work to be had during Tiempo Muerto, the group said.

The victims began their LCA in the 75 hectare hacienda that morning.

The nine casualties and the four survivors were resting in a farm hut when they were strafed by about 40 armed men believed to be Revolutionary Proletarian Army members working as hired goons of the landlords.

Initial reports said that the perpetrators subsequently fired at the heads of the victims at close range and even tried to burn their bodies.

Initial data culled from the area reveal that a certain Barbara Tolentino owns the hacienda and maintains a number of goons there.

Earlier, two leaders of NFSW were also killed in Sagay City.

Feudalism and death

Flora A. Jemola, chairperson of NFSW-Sagay City was killed on December 21, 2017 in an LCA area in Hacienda Susan. She died from 13 stab wounds by suspected elements of paramilitary forces reportedly under the command of the 12th IB of the Philippine Army.

This was followed by the killing of Ronald Manlanat, a member of a local chapter of NFSW in Hacienda Joefred on February 21, 2018, again by suspected paramilitaries under the 12th IB of the Philippine Army. The killers emptied a whole magazine of M16 bullets onto his head.

The Sagay Massacre last Saturday hikes to 45 the number of peasants killed in Negros Island under the Duterte regime.

NFSW said that of the 424,130 hectares of sugar lands in Negros Island, 34 percent are owned by only 1,860 big landlords with 50 hectares or more each.

Thirty percent of the land is owned by 6,820 big and small landlords with 10 to 49 hectares each.

Meanwhile, the majority of 53,320 farmers and agricultural workers only own 36 percent of the sugar lands, the group reported.

The NFSW estimates that 70 percent of sugar lands that have been distributed by the government through its various land reform schemes had been leased back to the landlords due mainly to lack of support services and non-land support facilities that forced Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries to lease their land.

“Sugar workers in haciendas (plantations), on the average, receive a measly P500 to P750 weekly wages all year round. Minimum wage is pegged at only P245 per day for the farm workers but in many haciendas, P80-P120 a day is still prevalent,” NFSW said.

Saturday’s massacre received widespread condemnation throughout the country and was even reported by media outfits abroad.

Widespread condemnation

Makabayan senatorial candidate and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares vehemently condemned the massacre of 9 NFSW members.

“That is really absurd because the issue of land is a legitimate issue. This is an attempt of the Duterte govt to quell any form of protest by crminalizng legitimate demands,” Colmenares said in a statement.

“We demand an immediate impartial probe on this massacre and we will not stop until justice has been served,” Colmenares  said.

Fellow senatorial candidate Erin Tañada said he is disheartened by the incident.

“This is not the first time that farmers have lost their lives trying to gain possession of the lands awarded to them, and I fear it won’t be the last. This is a persistent problem in the implementation of agrarian reform,” Tañada said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sa Mga Batang Tausug

Ni Kislap Alitaptap

 

Kanina
Wala nang oras ang programa
Ihabol ang mabuting balita
Pantanggal umay sa balitang
Baha, lunod, guho
Ulan, hambalos, bugso
Dumagundong ang tambol
Ng pananagumpay ng
Kaayusan laban sa karahasan

 

Kanina
Nabanggit kayo sa balita
At sa pagmamadali
Ng nagbabalita
Nakalimutan niyang
Kayo’y ipakilala
Na kayo ay mga bata
At hindi mga sandata
Ang lansones at mangostena
Na inyong dala-dala.

 

16 Setyembre 2018
Lungsod ng Baguio

Moro group blames Duterte for the massacre of Tausug evacuees

National minority group Suara Bangsamoro blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for the massacre of seven Tausug civilians Friday in Patikul, Sulu by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“President Duterte’s all-out war policy is killing more and more of our Moro brothers and sisters. We are enraged that, to appease his Filipino soldiers, he would sacrifice the lives of Moro people by exonerating the perpetrators of the massacre and branding the victims as terrorists,” Suara Bangsamoro national chairperson Jerome Succor Aladdin Aba said in a statement.

“We hold President Rodrigo Duterte responsible for the various human rights violations committed by the military against the Moro people in his all-out war directives against ‘terrorists’that uses massive ammunitions including aerial bombardment that target and punishes the community as a whole, and does not discriminate from the real bandits from the civilians,” Aba added.

According to the group, the victims were identified as “husbands of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Patikul who were shot by elements of Scout Rangers while harvesting mangosteen fruits in the area.”

Suara Bangsamoro said the victims were residents of Barangay Tambang and were aged 18 to 32.

The victims evacuated to Barangay Igasan in Patikul due to ongoing military operations in the area against the bandit group Abu Sayyaf.

According to their families, the victims were allowed by the military’s 55th Infantry Battalion to go to Sitio Tubig Bato, Barangay Kabuntakas to harvest mangosteen.

While they were in Kabuntakas, a firefight between the AFP and the Abu Sayaff and Philippine Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion happened.

The military mistook the seven as Abu Sayyaf members and were captured alive at about noontime Friday, Suara Bangsamoro said.

At five o’clock, however, their cadavers were taken by the AFP to the local police station.

In its press release Friday, the Western Mindanao Command of the AFP claimed the seven were part of a group of 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters who fired at its Task Group Panther and Scout Rangers troopers operating in the area.

Suara Bangsamoro called on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the incident as well as other human rights violations against Moro communities.

“The AFP should be held accountable for this crime. This is not the first time that the AFP committed an atrocity against civilians while parading the victims as Abu Sayyaf bandits,” Aba said.

Suara Bangsamoro said it blames AFP’s anti-terror operations and Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao for the attacks against civilians. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lanzones at Mangosteen (o sa pitong kabataang Tausug)

Ni Pia Montalban

 

Nanlalagkit ang dagta,

kahit anong tamis

ng kabataang hinog

at di huhulas

ang lilang lamog

mula sa mga nilagusan

ng pulbura’t tingga.

Pitong bungang pinitas,

dagta’y pula ang tagas…

Pitong kabataang mag-uuma

yakap-yakap mga kahon ng bunga,

ngayo’y ikakahon silang terorista—

A-bu sa-yaff!

 

Ngunit gumugulong sa kalsada

ang nabitawang mga bunga

at magsasalaysay lamang ito

ng tapat na mga tala.

NDF-Panay on Antique 7: ‘Proudest to acknowledge and claim them’

“We boast of them as among the best sons and daughters of our motherland.”–Concha Araneta

 

THE National Democratic Front in Panay (NDF-Panay) acknowledged that the seven killed in San Jose, Antique Wednesday, August 15, were their own who were “veterans and responsible cadres of the [Communist Party of the Philippines] and the revolution.”

In a statement issued a few hours after news of the massacre broke out, NDF-Panay spokesperson Concha Araneta said five of those mowed down by the military were “comrades full of ability, talent, intelligence and [were] most assiduous.”

Araneta said Felix Salditos alias Ka Dudi, Eldie Labinghisa alias Ka Elton, Karen Ceralvo alias Ka Liway, and Liezl Nadiola alias Ka Mayang were members of the CPP’s education and propaganda staff in the island who were in Antique to investigate people’s complaints.

Araneta said among the problems brought forward by the people in the province included demolition of urban poor houses, concerns of poor and small fisherfolks, the poverty of workers and sacadas, soaring prices of commodities and expenditures, among others.

She added that the two others, Jason Talibo alias Ka Bebe and Jason Sanchez, provided technical services in order to facilitate their research and study of the conditions of the most backward province in Panay.

“(U)nlike the fascist troops who conceal their casualties, we are proudest to acknowledge and claim Ka Dudi, Ipoy, Elton, Liway, Mayang, Bebe and Jason. We boast of them as among the best sons and daughters of our motherland,” Araneta said.

Araneta said the martyrs gave the ripest and most productive years of their lives to the utmost service to the people and for the advancement of the revolutionary struggle in Panay.

The seven were killed after midnight of August 15 in Barangay Atabay in what the San Jose police and the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade Intelligence Task Group said was a 30-minute firefight.

No encounter

NDF-Panay, however, said the incident was a brutal massacre, planned and executed by the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army.

Araneta said the seven victims were all asleep and unarmed, contrary to claims by the raiding team that a grenade, a .38 revolver, one KG-9, an M203 grenade were found at the scene that could hardly sustain a 30-minute clash if there was indeed a firefight.

She also questioned the police claim that the raiding team went to the area to serve warrants of arrest against two of the victims.

“If their intention was to serve the warrant, why execute it in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness? And to think that (they) had a hundred men deployed just to capture two personalities,” Araneta said.

Araneta also belied that the victims were members of the NPA’s taxation team or were planning to raid the San Jose police station.

Families of the victims in a press conference in Iloilo Thursday described some of them as writers, with Salditos cited as a notable painter and writer.

Maya Daniel’s last poem, posted a few minutes after they were killed by raiding police and military in San Jose, Antique.

Red poet

Sources told Kodao that Salditos was the poet and visual artist Maya Daniel.

Tributes to Daniel’s poetry in his Facebook account quickly poured, hailing him as an inspiration and thanking him for his sacrifice.

Daniel’s last update a few minutes before their deaths read, “Just posted 17 poems and visuals…Feel free to share, friends. Goodnight!”

Araneta said their martrys were smart and diligent comrades who shared their learning and knowledge to the younger generation of revolutionaries.

“They gave color, music, energy and life to revolutionary propaganda and culture for the exploited and oppressed, for genuine freedom, justice and peace,” she said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Filipino activists condemn Israel’s massacre of Palestinians

A few hours after the massacre of 61 Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces, activists held a protest action along EDSA in Quezon City Tuesday afternoon.

Various organizations led by the International League of People’s Struggles-Philippines condemned the latest massacre while the United States of America opened its new Embassy in Jerusalem.