Remains of farmers killed on October 19, 2018 in Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental | NFSW
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed on Monday (October 22) that neighbors of the slain farmers in Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental identified the person possibly behind the massacre in the afternoon of October 19.
The PNP said they are now looking for some persons of interest who, according to witnesses, were former farmers.
“In terms of identity, iyan pa ang niwo-work out natin kasi nagma-match sa sinasabi nating former farm workers din,” said PCInsp. Robert Mansueto, Chief of Sagay City Police.
According to Police Regional Office 6 Director PCSupt. John Bulalacao, the authorities are looking into four angles as to the motive behind the crime – the land owner’s mobilization of armed group, conflict over land ownership, a possible influence of the New People’s Army (NPA), and the old conflict of the land owner with members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) unit in 2015.
“Ito daw may-ari na si Ms. Tolentino ay pinarenta ang farm niya pero bago niya pinarenta ay mayroong 40 farmers siya doon at allegedly, ang farmers doon have already in their possession the deed of donation from the land owners. Noong malaman na may deed of donation itong mga biktima pumunta doon sa lugar na instigated by the core members of the Sugarcane Federation ng Negros (Occidental),” explained Supt. Bulalacao.
With this, Bulalacao said, the authorities will also interrogate the core members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers.
The police official said among the three persons of interest, two have already been examined for paraffin test.
“Noong October 20, pinuntahan sila ng mga 40 na alleged farmers at kinausap na huwag sila mag-squat doon sa lugar. But itong mga namatay, they insisted to stay on kaya noong gabi namatay sila,” Bulalacao said.
The officer said authorities also recovered firearms from the victims including a .38 caliber pistol and shotgun ammunition.
The witnesses also said there were only around 5 to 7 suspects contrary to earlier reports that 40 armed men stormed the sugar farm.
A witness, meanwhile, identified one of the gunmen as also a resident of Hacienda Nene. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)