AFP-backed goons massacre 9 farmers in Negros

Nine were killed, including two minors and four women, in a massacre on Hacienda Nene, Purok Fire Tree, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, on October 20.

At around 9:30 p.m., 40 unidentified armed men strafed the farmers who were then resting in a hut in the said hacienda. The victims were identified as Iglicerio Villegas, Angelipe Arsenal and Morena Mendoza who were residents of Barangay Plaridel; Peter Ras, Dodong Laurenio and Bingbing Bantigue. Among those killed were also Joemarie Ughayon Jr., 17, of Barangay Rafaela Barrera, and Marchtel Sumicad, 17, of Purok Mahogany, Barangay Bulanon.

Reports indicate that most of the victims suffered head-shots. Three of the victims’ corpses were incinerated by the perpetrators while four others survived the strafing.

All of the victims were active members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) who launched their “bungkalan” or collective farming in the area on October 19. The land is within the 75-hectare hacienda that was grabbed by a certain Atty. Barbara Tolentino, and leased by Conpinco Trading.

Despite being issued a “notice of coverage” by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), land within the hacienda is yet to be distributed.

Since 2008, farmers annually launch their collective farming to survive the “tiempo muerto” o dead season between the harvesting and re-planting of sugarcane. In a statement, the NFSW said that the assailants who shot the farmers are possibly mercenaries who are members of the “Revolutionary Proletarian Army,” an armed group in Negros that broke away with the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1993.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas stressed that this was not the first incident of peasant killing in Sagay City.

On December 21, 2017, Flora Jemola, chairperson of NFSW-Sagay City, was stabbed to death by suspected elements of the 12th IB-CAFGU. On February 21, Ronald Manlanat, a member of NFSW in Hacienda Joefred, Barangay General Luna, was also shot dead by suspected elements of the CAFGU.

In a statement, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura said the the killings are a direct result of the AFP’s red-tagging campaign against peasants in Negros. On April 20, BGen. Eliezer Losanes, commander of the 303rd IBde, peddled a piece of fake news maliciously stating that the lands which are being cultivated by farmworkers and farmers in Negros are communal farms of the New People’s Army (NPA).

In sum, 45 farmers have been killed in Negros Island under the Duterte regime. Killings. A B’laan farmer was shot dead by elements of the 73rd IB in Sitio Mahayag, Barangay Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani on October 7 at around 7 p.m. The victim was identified as Jimmy Ambat, who was earlier accused by the military as an NPA member. Ambat was in his house together with his family when he was killed. He was shot when he rushed to the aid of his nephew who was then being beaten by the soldiers.

On October 15, Victor Villafranca, a member of Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT), was killed by suspected military elements in Lian, Batangas. Villafranca actively participated in the campaign against land-use conversion and militarization in their community. According to Pamalakaya, Villafranca was the sixth fisherman killed under the Duterte regime.

In Albay, elements of the 22nd IB-CAFGU shot Mario Pantoja Maritana, 40, on October 2 in the morning while on his way to their house in Barangay Doña Mercedes, Guinobatan.

Maritana was aboard a motorcycle after taking his child to school in Barangay Malobago when he was ambushed. Maritana died in the hospital two days after the incident.

The victim has long been tagged by the military as a supporter of the NPA and accused of participation in an ambush mounted by the NPA on September against the 22nd IB-CAFGU in their barangay.

In Ligao City, elements of the 22nd IB-CAFGU forcibly entered the residence of farmer Amador Orfano, 59, in Barangay Pandan on October 7 at around 3 a.m. The suspects asked Orfano where the house of Kagawad Grace Ocfemia is. The victim was shot dead after the interrogation.

After the crime, the suspects went next to barangay Pinamaniquian and torched the house of Ocfemia.

On top of this, the fascists also burned down two more houses of the Quinalayo family in the same barangay on October 14 and 16. The 22nd IB-CAFGU also threatened to burn burn down all houses in the area.

Dispersal. Seventeen members of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA), including a pregnant woman, were wounded in the almost simultaneous dispersal of their picketlines in Sumitomo Fruits Corp. (SUMIFRU) on October 11. Within 13 hours, 300 security guards and goons of the company assailed the picketlines in SUMIFRU Packing Plant (PP) 370 in barangays Pilar Babag, PP 98 and PP 340 in Osmeña, PP 92 in Alegria, PP 90 in Gabi, PP 99 in San Miguel and PP 115 in Marapat, all in Compostela, Compostela Valley.

The assailants demolished the huts and burned down the structures and food supply of, and mauled the striking workers. Simultaneously, soldiers of the 66th IB illegally entered the houses of the workers. Two workers, Jimboy Cagas and Ramil Monte, were arrested by the police but were immediately released.

The deployment of dispersal teams in various picketlines of SUMIFRU striking workers occurred after the Compostela Valley Regional Trial Court 11 Branch 56 junked the petition of SUMIFRU to prohibit workers from impeding the entry and exit of thee said plantation’s banana products.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon of October 18, security guards and police officers also violently dispersed the camp of peasants from Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan in front of DAR. The said farmers put up a market of vegetable products which they harvested from the lands they tilled and are struggling for. The peasants marched to DAR to hold a dialogue with its administrators. Immediately after the dialogue, however, guards and police officers attacked them and demolished the huts they have constructed.

Harassment. Paid internet trolls continue to harass and villify activists in Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Cagayan. Twenty-six individuals were tagged as “NPA members” in various leaflets distributed by the 5th ID in Tuguegarao City and Amulong, Cagayan.

In Ilocos, trolls of the AFP accused Mary Ann Gabahan of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance as an “NPA protector” and “councilor’s mistress.” The writers and staff of Northern Dispatch, an alternative news outfit in Northern Luzon, were also harassed and villfied.