BACOLOD CITY  (Inquirer)

This was the message conveyed by San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza as Filipinos marked Labor Day and the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on Wednesday.
The prelate gave emphasis on the need to render justice for the nine members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers who occupied part of Hacienda Nene in Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, Negros Occidental and were massacred by armed men on October 20, 2018.
“The impunity in these senseless killings resulting from the landlessness of our agricultural and farm workers are sad manifestations of where we are in our journey towards God’s kingdom of love, justice and peace,” Alminaza said.

Prompted by the Church’s preferential option for the poor, and the Diocese of San Carlos’ fact-finding recommendations, Alminaza instructed the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC)to accompany the Sagay massacre survivors and families in their quest for justice.

“The land issue is a very important economic aspect in the lives of our farmers and must be part of reflections among BEC cluster groups, so that our poor farmers may not feel alone in their plight,” he said.

Alminaza also called on leaders of the different farmers’ groups to always make paramount the well-being of their fellow poor farmers as well as for Catholic landowners to prioritise the interest of the common good and to denounce violence and greed.

He said government agencies such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Agrarian Reform and local government units must help facilitate the delivery of speedy justice in the killing of the nine Sagay farmers and to protect the lives of defenceless civilians whom they have sworn to defend and protect.

“May everyone in our community have compassion for our poor brothers and sisters as we bear in mind that the situation of the smallest and weakest among us would show how we are as a community,” Alminaza said.