BACOLOD CITY – Nine farmers were killed and three wounded in a massacre in Hacienda Nene in Purok Pine Tree Barangay Bulanon in Sagay City, where farmers are staging “bungkalan” or land cultivation of idle farm lands.
The victims, were members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW). Reportedly they tried to occupy private land in Hacienda Nene. They were eating dinner inside their tents when they were shot by a band of armed men. The 9 fatalities succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds. Among them were 2 minors and 3 women.
Those killed were Eglicerio Villegas, 36; Jomarie Ughayon Jr., 17; Marchtel Sumicad, 17; Angelipe Arsenal, Dodong Laurencio, Morena Mendoza, Necnec Dumaguit, Bingbing Bantigue and one identified only as Pater, all of Sagay City.
The Policed said that the members of the NFSW had occupied the farm owned by Carmen Tolentino on Saturday morning after the owner had harvested her crops.
Other farmers were killed in Negros from July 23 to August 30, 2018, in what appeared to be an retaliation after an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) last July that killed six policemen and a civilian in Guihulngan City. The farmers killed were: Glenn Absin was killed in Barangay Poblacion on July 23, Alberto Tecson in Barangay Bulado on July 24, Danilo Salazar in Barangay Malusay on July 28, Rene Faburada in Malusay on August 4, Leodegario Benero Jr. in Barangay Hinakpan on August 17, Marlyn Vidal in Barangay McKinley on August 26, and Oscar Asildo Jr. in Barangay Poblacion on August 30.
Farmers and agricultural workers in the Negros island have been putting their plight to the forefront for the longest time as they call for genuine agrarian reform. In a statement, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) said bungkalan is their “response to resonate our campaign for genuine agrarian reform and free land distribution. Bungkalan reflects the failure of the government’s land reform program and the landlords’ refusal to distribute land to the tillers”
A total reward of PHP500,000 has been offered for any information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects in the massacre while the Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon III, has put up an other bounty of PHP250,000.
NFSW farmers said that they have been told that the land they were tilling might have been part of the government’s land reform and could be divided among 31 farmers. The group of farmers entered Hacienda Carmen (Nene) with the intention of planting corn and monggo. However, the land cannot be awarded to them because it is not yet subject of agrarian reform and is still covered by a deed of donation and a notice of coverage (CARP acquisition for distribution of private land). To complicate further the case the farmers said that they did not ask permission from the land owner Carmen Tolentino because the land was leased to a certain Allan Singbenco. NFSW members had previously discussed the cultivation program with Singbenco, who had also hired many of them as seasonal labor after leasing the plantation from Carmen Tolentino. The plan was to harvest what Singbenco had planted and after this then the farmers could start to plant their own products.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the San Carlos Diocese has ordered the social action arm of the Catholic Church to aid survivors of the massacre.