Si Ben Ramos ay isang masugid na people’s lawyer, abogado ng mga magsasaka, abogado ng napakaraming political prisoner. Dahil dito, siya ay pinatay.–Atty. Rey Cortez, Secretary General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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,
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.
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.
24 Oktubre 2018
Leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel took turns lambasting new Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, calling him “amnesiac,” “befuddled,” and, worse, “cheap shyster.”
Reacting from Panelo’s challenge to NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison to “walk the talk” and support President Rodrigo Duterte’s “call for conciliation and peace,” the Left’s chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the new Malacañan mouthpiece conveniently suffers from amnesia.
Agcaoili reminded Panelo it was Duterte who terminated the peace negotiations four times since May 2017 and foiled every attempt to resume these through back channel talks.
“At any rate, during the third termination in November 2017, President Duterte issued Proclamation 360, ending the peace negotiations,” Agcaoili said.
Duterte has not revoked his proclamation even after committees under the NDFP and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiators worked out a number of “unprecedented agreements” on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and National Industrialization and Economic Development, which constitute the bedrock sections of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
Also hammered out was an Amnesty Proclamation for all NDFP-listed political prisoners to be signed and certified by President Duterte as urgent to obtain the concurrence of Congress in order to effect their expeditious release.
Agcaoili added there was an agreement for a Coordinated Unilateral Ceasefire (CUC) which would have taken effect upon signing by the Negotiating Panels.
The CUC was conceptualized to evolve into a bilateral ceasefire.
“Together, these three agreements would have constituted the Interim Peace Agreement to be signed at the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo last June 28 to 30,” Agcaoili said.
“Never have the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations advanced to this level. But for his own vile reasons, President Duterte has chosen to terminate the talks right at the brink of all these breakthroughs,” he added.
The NDFP chief negotiator said Duterte wasted time and squandered efforts by both NDFP and GRP negotiators, not to mention the lives that could have been saved on both sides of the armed conflict.
Agcaoili paid little significance to Duterte’s latest speech in Davao City that “merely mentioned surrender talks, and enticements to individual NPA guerrillas who capitulate.”
“Nowhere does he mention the meaningful reforms that should be in place to address the roots of the armed conflict,” he said.
Who is committing crimes?
In a statement issued over the weekend, Panelo also said the Duterte government cannot sit with Communist leaders in the same negotiating table while the latter’s armed comrades continue fighting.
“These include the ambushing of our armed forces and innocent civilians while enforcing their so-called revolutionary taxes and destroying the properties of individuals or entities who refuse to give in to their orders,” Panelo said.
Agcaoili replied that contrary to Panelo’s lies, it is the government that are “fraudulently committing criminal acts and bringing harm to our people.”
He cited the massacre of nine farm workers in Sagay City, Negoris Occidental last Saturday as a worsening of “the festering social problems that feed the fires of armed conflict.”
“As a testament to the utter failure of the GRP to effect social justice, the land remains undistributed 18 years after the sugar workers first petitioned the DAR for the estate to be placed under land reform coverage,” he said.
Sison for his part said Panelo exposed himself as “a cheap shyster who engages in outright lying and shouting in a futile attempt to deny or cast doubt on the truth of the Duterte-style massacre of the nine in Sagay.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
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)
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.
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)