Press Statement | October 22, 2018
Ka Frank Fernandez
NDFP Negros Island
The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Negros Island is one with the Filipino people in strongly condemning the massacre of sugarcane workers in Sagay City on October 20, 2018. The revolutionary organizations in Negros condole with the families and comrades of the victims, and call on them to transform grief into courage and militant action amid the continuing fascist attacks and threats of the reactionary cabal of hacienderos and state armed forces in the Island.
The brutal killing of nine sugarcane workers in Hacienda Nene, Purok Firetree, Brgy. Bulanon, Sagay City exemplifies the barbaric character of despotic landlords who wish to crush the struggle of farmworkers for just wages, benefits, humane working conditions and land to till. Victims of the Sagay Massacre were peppered with bullets. Some of the corpses were even mutilated, soaked with gasoline and burned. There is no justification for this carnage.
The massacre in Hacienda Nene is the latest in a series of peasant killings in Sagay City under the Duterte regime. On December 21, 2017, Flora Jemola, 63, chairperson of the local chapter of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Sagay City, was stabbed to death. Earlier this year, on February 22, 30-year old farmer Ronald Manlanat was shot 18 times with an M16 rifle while working on a land cultivation area in Hacienda Joefred, Sagay City.
The intensity of the peasant killings in Sagay City and the whole of Negros Island is characteristic of the impunity of the Duterte regime and its killing machines in the Armed Forces and the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). These murderers can only shed crocodile tears for the victims. Statements from top AFP and PNP officials such as PNP Region 6 Chief John Bulalacao, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Chief Rodolfo Castil, and AFP Spokesperson Edgar Arevalo, only aim to cover up the culpability of big landlords and their local auxiliary forces who are directly implicated in the Sagay Massacre.
Instead of performing thorough investigation, the military and police immediately worked to spread disinformation. They planted incriminating evidence on the victims and ridiculed their right to wage organized mass actions and demand genuine land reform. The military and police are quick to lay the blame on the victims themselves, their affiliate sugar workers and peasant organizations, the revolutionary movement and the New People’s Army (NPA).
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. The public must not be misled into believing that Revolutionary Proletarian Army (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.
The farmworkers of Sagay City have long been deprived of their right to own the land they work under the hacienda system. Under the current arriendo (leasehold) system, Hacienda Nene farmworkers take home only less than P50 a day. The despotic reign and brutality of landlords has long made Negros Island a bastion of feudal oppression. This, inevitably, has made Negros a bastion as well of fierce revolutionary struggle.
The NDF and revolutionary forces in the island will not rest until justice is served for the victims of the Sagay Massacre and the peasants of Negros. The NDF calls on various sectors of society to side with the oppressed sugarcane workers of Negros, expose the truth and fight for justice. With the despotism of the Duterte regime, the Filipino people can only rest their hopes on their cherished army, the NPA, and the victory of the people’s war. ###