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9 farmers massacred in Sagay City

Nine farmers, including two minors and four women, were massacred in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last night, Saturday.

In a flash report posted this morning, Aksyon Radyo Bacolod said nine were killed in a strafing incident at Hacienda Nene, Purok Fire Tree, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City.

The victims were National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) members who were staying in a hut at the place of the incident.

Four others survived the attack, NFSW said.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in an urgent alert said the victims were engaged in a Land Cultivation Area (bungkalan) activity.

Sagay chief of police, Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, said the killings happened around 9:30 p.m.

He added that some of the victims were from different villages while the rest were from Bulanon but not from the hamlet where the plantation is located.

NFSW immediately accused “goons,” a euphemism for private security personnel, and members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, an armed band that had broken away from the communist New People’s Army for the incident in Hacienda Nene, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, close to 90 kilometers from here.

Sagay Mayor Alfredo Maranon III, son of Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr., expressed “shock” and condemned the killings “in the strongest possible terms” as he ordered police to “do everything possible to bring justice to the nine families that lost loved ones” and promised to extend all possible assistance to the victims’ kin.

NFSW officer Danilo Tabora confirmed that some 75 members of the union had occupied the land Saturday morning, a day after the harvest on the sugarcane plantation, as part of a “bungkalan” campaign to till lands covered by the government’s agrarian reform program.

Mayor Maranon confirmed that the land was under a “notice of coverage” from the Department of Agrarian Reform but explained that this meant this was still an early stage in the process of distributing the land to beneficiaries.

Sagay police named the victims as:

• Eglicerio Villegas, 36 – Bulanon

• Angelipe Arsenal – Bulanon

• Alias Pater – Barangay Plaridel

• Dodong Laurencio – Plaridel

• Morena Mendoza (female) – Bulanon

• Neknek Dumaguit, female

• Bingbing Bantigue – Plaridel

• Joemarie Ughayon Jr., 17 – Barangay Rafaela Barrera

• Marchtel Sumicad, 17 – Bulanon

According to sources, Hacienda Nene is owned by a certain Atty. Barbara Tolentino and is leased by Bacolod City-based Conpinco Trading.

Reporting from the funeral parlor where the victims had been taken, radio station dyHB said most of them bore headshots and at least three of the bodies were burned.

“We hold the military and the [Rodrigo] Duterte government responsible for said incident,” KMP and UMA said in its alert.

Other sources from the KMP said that they have been other killings at Hacienda Nene prior to the incident.

In December 21, 2017, NFSW-Sagay City chairperson Flora A. Jemola died from 13 stab wounds inflicted by suspected Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) forces under the 12th IB of the Philippine Army.

Last February 21, Ronald Manlanat, a member of a local chapter of NFSW in Hacienda Joefred, Barangay General Luna, Sagay City, was killed by suspected CAFGU members who emptied an entire M16 magazine onto his head.

The NFSW told Kodao that a fact-finding mission is being held at the moment.

The massacre happened as farmers’ groups led by the KMP are commemorating Peasant Month this October in a series of nationally-coordinated activities dubbed October Resistance. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activist among this year’s Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda awardee

A farmers’ rights activist and former political detainee was named among the honorees of this year’s Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda (SUN) Award in a ceremony held at the Social Security System’s Ramon Magsaysay Hall in Quezon City Sunday.

Angelina Ipong, thrice detained and heavily tortured for her activism, was honored by the Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Inc. for her lifelong work with agricultural workers for just wages and democratic rights.

Ipong  was honored along with Eduardo Albonia (79, Bulacan), Bandayan Danwata (79, Davao Occidental), Erlinda Libor (76, Pampanga), Ceilia Ruiz (80, Baguio City), Anita Castor (64, Capiz), Esperanza Escoton (72, Quezon City), Josef Feliciano (71, Navotas City), Salvacion Garcia (64, Negros Occidental), and Leonita Labitag (73, Antipolo City).

In her acceptance speech, Ipong thanked her farmer father and the peasant sector.

Ipong accepting her Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda 2017 award. (Contributed photo)

Sila ang nagmulat sa akin, sila ang nagbigay sa akin ng buhay. Kaya gusto kong ilaan ang nalalabi pang panahon ng aking buhay sa kanila,” Ipong said.

The 72 year-old mother of one said she spent majority of her adult life as an activist because of the injustices suffered by poor peasants.

Ang magsasaka ang lumilikha ng pagkain ng bansa pero sila ay gutom at lugmok sa kahirapan. Sila ang naglilinang ng lupa ngunit sila ang walang lupa,” Ipong said.

Pito sa sampung magsasaka ang walang lupa. Atrasadong agrikultura, walang pag-unlad sa kanayunan.  Hanggang kalian ba magpapatuloy itong ganitong kalagayan?” she asked.

Ipong, who currently works with the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, was first detained in 1992 and again in November 1995.

She was abducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 2005 when she was accused to be a top commander of the New People’s Army in Northern Mindanao and slapped with rebellion, double murder, double attempted murder and arson charges.

At the start of her third and longest detention, Ipong was blindfolded for days, tortured and sexually-harassed.  She was also kept in isolation for 14 days.

Ipong acting out her torture for the One Billion Rising-Philippines video. (R. Villanueva)

Activist even in jail

In jail, Ipong said she could not stand the filth in their cells and bathrooms. She organized and led the cleaning brigades and soon managed to bring down cases of skin and other diseases among inmates.

“I asked my friends who visited me to bring me soap, brushes, paint and other supplies so we can clean the jail facility,” Ipong told Kodao in an earlier interview.

She soon trained her sights on her fellow inmates’ nutrition who were forced to eat nothing but poor prison food “unfit for humans.”

“I initiated dialogues with the wardens who eventually gave in to my incessant demands to be allowed to start an organic gardening program inside the jail compound,” she said.

In no time, the garden Ipong started supplemented their prison food with fresh and organically-grown vegetables daily.

Naku, ang mga guwardiya nga, nauuna pang mamitas ng mga gulay namin kasi masarap, fresh, organic at libre,” she said.

Ipong also started a livelihood program to allow fellow inmates to earn and help their families.

When she was arbitrarily transferred in the middle of the night to another jail facility, she started all over and again succeeded until the courts dismissed all charges against her and set free in 2011.

Ipong co-authored the book on human rights A Red Rose for Andrea: Writings from Prison (Quezon City: Southern Voices Printing Press) a year after release.

Secret to a long and productive life

In her speech, Ipong said the secret to her long, productive and eventful life is keeping healthy, staying young at heart and commitment to serving the people.

Ipong said she still asks to this day how she can contribute to improving the lives of poor peasants in the Philippines.

Paano natin matuturuan ang magsasaka na umasa sa sarili, gampanan ang tungkulin na paunlarin ang atrasadong agrikultura at krudong teknolohiya, maging ng buong  kanayunan?” she asked in her speech.

Ipong said the youth should be encouraged to contribute in the development of the countryside.

Gusto kong patuloy na magturo lalo na sa mga kabataan. Hinihikayat at hinahamon ko kayo—lalo na ang young agriculturists, engineers, technicians, farmers, scientists, teachers, artists—na tumulong tayo,” she said.

“Share your time, talent and especially your commitment. We need you.  Let us join our hands with the farmers in their struggle for food, for land, for scientific development and for justice,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)