4 former rebels tagged in Sagay massacre yield
BACOLOD CITY: Four former communist rebels linked by the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Negros to the infamous Sagay 9 massacre surrendered to authorities but denied the accusations against them.
Frank Fernandez, spokesman for NDF-Negros, last week tagged Vito Lutrago, Eduardo Linogon, Rexi Robles, and a certain Rako as the suspects in the October 20 murder of nine civilians in Hacienda Nene in Barangay Bulanon.
The four are former members of the communist breakaway group, Revolutionary Proletarian Army.
Fernandez also tagged the former rebels as “armed goons” of landlords in northern Negros, who are owners of vast landholdings in Sagay City.
Lutrago, Linogon, Robles and Macario Pedrano voluntarily surrendered to the Sagay City Police Station and denied they were serving as armed goons for landowners, saying that they do not even know each other.
The four claimed they have been receiving threats that their families will be killed because of their alleged involvement in the massacre.
On Friday, the four joined a media conference of the victims of the Sagay 9 massacre, accompanied by Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto, Sagay City police chief, and City Social Welfare Development Officer Consolacion Espinosa.
Lutrago, whose two brothers were killed by the New People’s Army, said he got the ire of the
“Spare my family, if you want to kill me,” he added.
Robles, on the other hand, said they are being used as scapegoats, “so that the victims’ families and the authorities will no longer search for the real culprits. “
But Mansueto said despite their denials, the four are still considered suspects as part of their investigation, although there is still no direct evidence against them.
Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, whose infantry units are helping the police secure the families of the victims, admitted he was shocked by the revelations of the former rebels and families of the Sagay 9 massacre, including the repeated attempts of the National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL), Karapatan and Gabriela to take into custody a 14-year-old vital witness to the massacre.
Vic Pedaso, father of the witness, who also joined the media conference held at the Balay Kauswagan in Sagay City, said his former livein partner and his son, are being held against their will.
illegal detention charges against the NUPL and other militant groups.
Meanwhile, Espinosa said it was agreed that the minor be allowed to return to Negros, if he will be needed.
But she added that the minor and the mother could not be located, as of this writing.
The four former rebels asked President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate a lawmaker in northern Negros, who is supplying logistical
and ammunition, to the NPA.
The former rebels also claimed that the lawmaker, whom they did not name, is also a drug lord.
Arevalo said the lawmaker being accused as an NPA supporter in northern Negros should be included in the House and Senate inquiries.
“Our interest here is not political, but to know the truth, if indeed, there is a congressman or politicians supporting the NPA. It is better that it should be known by the people, not only by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he added.