MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr says the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) may have had a hand in the killing of 9 farmers in Negros Occidental.
Members of the New People's Army, the CPP's armed wing, may have fired an "agitation shot" that led to the mass shooting of the farmers in a plot of farmland in Sagay.
This is one of 3 leads being probed by the military.
"There is the hand of the CPP-NPA because there was one warning shot or agitation shot which is what happened in Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita. A shot came from the ranks of the protesters. Then that's when the shooting began," he said on Thursday, October 25, during a Palace news briefing.
The other two theories is that a land owner fired the shots or that members of a private army did so. In contrast, the Philippine National Police theory is that a different farmer's group with claims to the land may had been behind the killings.
Nine farmers were killed Saturday night, October 20, when some 40 gunmen shot them while they were resting in their tents at the Hacienda Nene in Barangay Bulanon in Sagay City.
The Sagay massacre, Galvez said in a statement, is part of the Left's plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The CPP has been hatching plans to oust the Duterte Administration and this incident is part of their plan to rouse civil unrest and discredit the government," he said.
Calling it a "sinister plot," the military chief said that documents they supposedly recovered during an encounter with NPA rebels in Sorsogon showed a communist plan to occupy private and public lands to create tense situations that could lead to violence.
"What we see in this sinister plot, when we got the documents from the encounter in Sorsogon, we saw this Oplan Okupasyon and Oplan Bungkalan. This is what we call forcible occupation of private and public lands, this is like what the Kadamay did," he said during the press conference.
"They will create situations to manipulate and arouse people," he added.
The AFP and PNP both believe the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) to be a front of the CPP-NPA, of which the 9 farmers were members.
Galvez was scheduled to meet with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Thursday to report on the Sagay massacre and other security concerns.
Just the other night, Duterte had made a threat against communists attempting moves like Kadamay's to occupy public or private property.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.