Manila, Philippines – The National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) believes that the private army of a Negros landlord was behind the Oct. 20 massacre of nine NFSW members at Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
In a statement on Friday, NFSW secretary general John Milton “Butch” Lozande supported the initial findings of a fact-finding mission conducted by human rights and leftist groups on the incident.
The groups linked Hacienda Nene “aryendador” (lessor) Allan Simbingco to the killing.
According to the NFSW, Simbingco is related to the province’s Marañon political clan, which includes Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon III and Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr.
The NFSW, citing the findings of the mission, alleged that the Marañons maintained a private army made up of former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army and active militia members of the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA).
“The local SCAA [is] commonly known to protect haciendas in Negros and [is] under the control of the local government,” the human rights group Karapatan claimed in a separate statement.
Karapatan was part of the fact-finding mission, along with peasant farmers’ groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, and human rights lawyers’ group National Union of People’s Lawyers, among others.
Lozande said the mission saw “the same pattern” in the Sagay massacre and in the killings of NFSW Sagay chapter head Flora Jimola at Hacienda Susan in December last year and NFSW member Ronald Manlanat at Hacienda Jofred in January.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has denied the involvement of soldiers and militiamen in the massacre.
“What will we gain from killing those people? It is the [Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army], which [have] the grand design of having this situation worsen, so when something bad happens, they can magnify it,” AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said at a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.
Galvez claimed that the massacre was part of the insurgents’ so-called “Red October” plot to oust President Duterte.