Colmenares: Gov’t, AFP should be held responsible for Negros massacre

By Inquirer.net |October 21,2018 - 05:24 PM

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the Duterte administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be held responsible for the massacre of nine sugarcane workers inside a farm in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Saturday night.

He noted that the victims were members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

Colmenares, together with John Milton “Butch” Lozande, secretary general of both Unyon ng Mangggawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the NFSW, blamed the attack on the current administration and the AFP.

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

“As NFSW have repeatedly pointed out, the goal of setting up land cultivation areas is to ward off the inevitable hunger brought by the Tiempo Muerto (a dead season in the sugar industry) by planting on properties vegetable, corn and root crips on undistributed and idle lands to feed their families,” he added.

Colmenares, who “vehemently condemned” the attack, cited that on April 20, 2018, Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, 303rd commanding officer of the Philippine Army, reported that the land cultivation areas (LCAs) being maintained by agricultural sugar workers and farmers in the Negros Island were, in fact, communal farms of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

Colmenares noted that the victims were resting in a farm hut when they were reportedly strafed by 40 armed men.

They started cultivating land in the 75-hectare hacienda on Saturday morning, he said.

He also cited NFSW data which revealed that a certain Barbara Tolentino owns the hacienda and maintains a number of goons there.

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

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