Negros farmers' recruiter 'left them' before the bloodbath

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Police are looking into the possibility that the 9 farmers slain at Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, were left there on purpose prior to the bloodbath.

Citing accounts from two survivors of the incident, Negros Occidental top cop Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr said the victims were led inside Hacienda Nene by their recruiter from the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

Just before the ambush occurred, the recruiter left.

"After he (recruiter) was gone...the shooting happened. The malicious disappearance of the recruiter left questions to the investigators: What was the relation of the recruiter to the suspects? Where is the recruiter now? Who is the interested party behind the senseless shooting?" Castil said.

He added that based on testimonies of the relatives of the dead, the farmers only joined NFSW "on that day" when they were killed.

The provincial police chief said they are currently investigating "all possible angles" to explain the recruiter's disappearance.

NPA involvement? Meanwhile in Camp Crame, Quezon City, the Philippine National Police (PNP) raised the possibility that the farmers were used as "bait" by the communist New People's Army (NPA) to incite hate against the government.

This was announced by Western Visayas police director Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao in a Camp Crame press briefing on Monday, October 22.

Bulalacao claimed NFSW is a "legal front of the NPA."

"Mga bagong members ito (The farmers were new members), and they were left alone by the core group of the federation. And this federation is a legal front of the NPA. Hinayaan lang nila at parang lumalabas na ipinaing nila (The NPA abandoned them and it appears they were used as bait)," Bulalacao said, citing unnamed witnesses local cops have supposedly spoken to.

Castil then echoed his regional chief.

Why would the NPA use the farmers as bait? "Possible, that is to blame the government," said Bulalacao.

Bulalacao even said they are "inclined" to believe that the communist rebels also had a hand in the killing of the farmers.

"The victims possibly were a sacrificial lamb for another infamous but popular uprising against the administration, for the revolutionary movement to rise with fame, gaining more recruits from disgruntled and aggrieved farmers living in that area," Castil added.

The PNP's accusation comes as police continue to hold on to their suspicion of an impending ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte, which is allegedly being done by recruiting people from various sectors, including farmers.

Bulalacao added that aside from suspected NPA involvement, they are also looking into the possibility that the owner of the land that the farmers occupied had hired goons to kill them off, and also the angle that there are other farmer-claimants that the NFSW farmers had angered to the point of retaliation. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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