Courtesy: PRO 6
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) condemns the massacre of sugar farmers in Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last October 20.
According to DAR Secretary John Castriciones, they have formed a task force to investigate on the incident which led to the death of nine individuals including two minors.
Based on initial report, the incident happened around 9:45 pm when the victims were about to rest inside a makeshift shelter after a day’s work.
“So what transpired was actually a land occupation. When you say land occupation, this farmers entered the premises of the plantation without any legal basis at all,” said Castriciones.
The DAR Secretary clarified that the slain farmers were not agrarian reform beneficiaries.
DAR Undersecretary Luis Meinrado Pangulayan added that the site was privately-owned and was never covered by the government’s agrarian reform program because the owner already distributed parcels of land to 25 donees since 1988, even before DAR started issuing notices of coverage.
According to a source of the agency, the gunmen were members of a revolutionary proletarian army, a New People’s Army (NPA) breakaway group turned private army for some private land owners.
Authorities, however, are still verifying the said information.
The newly formed Task Force Sagay will determine what help the agency can provide to families of slain farmers, particularly legal assistance.
The DAR is also looking for available land that it can distribute to the affected farmers in the area.
The government is currently working to revive the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program to properly distribute over 500 hectares of land in different parts of the country to potential beneficiaries. – Rey Pelayo / Marje Pelayo