Relative names ‘Sagay 9’ suspect

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr in a Press Conference held Wednesday, 24 October 2018. (Photo by Cpl Joel Manzano PA/PAOAFP)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday claimed fingerprints of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) are all over the murder of nine sugarcane plantation workers in Sagay, Negros Occidental.

The nine farmer recruits of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) were killed 20 October by their own, reiterated AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo even as an alleged relative of one of the murdered victims surfaced to bolster the AFP claim.

“Amid the denial by CPP-NPA, their fingerprints are all over the shooting incident in Sagay,” Arevalo said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is also zeroing in on members of the NFSW as perpetrators of the crime. It claimed the NFSW members are also CPP-NPA cadres.

Both the PNP and the AFP alleged the CPP-NPA murdered the fresh recruits to put the blame on government and ignite unrest among the farm laborers.

“They are not stopping. This incident will not be the last if we will not stop them,” Arevalo said.

A certain Nove Bantigue, meanwhile, came out to claim she was a niece of Rannel Bantigue, one of the victims in the massacre.

Her narrative centered on the NFSW’s recruitment of Rannel by the NFSW in exchange for a parcel of land at Hacienda Nene he was promised to receive if he joined.

Nove named Rannel’s recruiter as Rene Manlangit.

“My uncle was an NFSW member for only two days when the shooting incident happened,” Nove claimed.

“My mother, Josephine Bantigue, wife of Rannel’s brother, is a former member of Agrarian Reform of Task Force Mapalad (TFM). It is also an association that aims to acquire land for farmers. Unlike the NFSW, TFM does not believe in armed struggle,” Nove said.

Nove claimed the TFM is a rival group of the NFSW.

She also added that TFM is a legal organization with no NPA serving as armed protector.

“There were more or less 15 new recruits and my uncle was among them with the promise of owning a land. This I think is the reason why all of them were enticed to join the group,”
Nove angrily added that after the shooting, it was Manlangit who reported the incident to the police.

“He was there. Manlangit even reported the incident to the police and informed them with the intent to delay their response by exaggerating the number of assailants as composed of 40 men. Why will he do that?” Nove asked.

“That is why all of us, families of the nine victims, strongly believe that the assailants are from there, from their organization or whom they know. There could have been more people alive if only Manlangit did not deceive authorities. Police had to wait for support when told they were to face as many as 40 armed men” she added.

“With the turn of event, there is no way or reasons that our soldiers are involved in that incident. They were not there. It is easy for us to identify new faces in our community that is why we are very certain that our soldiers did not have the hand in this incident,” Nove said.

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