4 ex-rebels deny in­volve­ment in Sa­gay mas­sacre

Sun Star Bacolod - - Top Stories - BY GLAZYL Y. MASCULINO

SA­GAY CITY – Four for­mer mem­bers of the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) de­nied their in­volve­ment in the mas­sacre of nine farm­ers here.

They showed up yes­ter­day dur­ing a press brief­ing at Balay Kauswa­gan here to clear their names af­ter they were named by Ka Frank of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Front (Ndf)ne­gros as the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors be­hind the mur­der of the farm­ers at Bu­lanon vil­lage on Oc­to­ber 20.

The NDF also al­leged they were for­mer mem­bers of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Pro­le­tar­ian Army (RPA), which was ve­he­mently de­nied by the for­mer rebels.

Two of them are ac­tive mem­bers of the Civil­ian Armed Forces Geo­graph­i­cal Unit (Cafgu) who were brought by mil­i­tary troops to the po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion while two oth­ers asked for po­lice as­sis­tance and sub­jected them­selves to the au­thor­i­ties for the same pur­pose.

The for­mer rebels, whose iden­ti­ties were with­held for se­cu­rity rea­sons, told the me­dia they have noth­ing to do with the Sa­gay mas­sacre be­cause they were not present when the in­ci­dent hap­pened.

One of them said: “The vic­tims must have been fa­mil­iar with the ones who killed them. Why us? How could we ap­proach the area when ev­ery­one knows it is thick with re­cruiters of the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Sugar Work­ers (NFSW) and a hang­out for the NPA?”

The other one said: “We know how the NPA work.”

“We don’t know any­thing about the case,” they all said, adding they even do not know each other when they met at the po­lice sta­tion.

We do not even know the landowner and we haven’t gone to that place, one of them said.

They said the real mo­tive of the rebel group is to let them sur­face so they can lo­cate and kill them, as they cited threats they re­ceived through text mes­sages. Their fam­i­lies were also threat­ened.

They said they are also be­ing tar­geted by the rebels be­cause they left the group and chose to re­turn to the fold of law.

Also, they said they are be­ing hunted by the armed group be­cause they knew about the lat­ter’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment.

“Nag halin kami sa grupo tun­god wala na kami ka intsindi sang ila nga gina himo (We left the group be­cause we al­ready do not un­der­stand their ac­tions),” one of them said.

One of them even told the press that his two broth­ers were al­legedly killed by

the rebels and he even sur­vived the pre­vi­ous at­tack of the group against him.

One of them said he can at­test the NFSW is linked with the NPA since he started as its mem­ber and quickly be­came part of the armed group.

Mean­while, Colonel Bene­dict Arevalo, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of the 303rd In­fantry Bat­tal­ion of the Philip­pine Army, said “this is the irony of the story. Who is act­ing as the com­plainant of the four? Be­cause here are the fam­i­lies of the slain farm­ers and they are not the ones mak­ing ac­cu­sa­tions against the four? In­stead, they point to the NFSW and NPA as the killers.”

Arevalo said they (rebel re­turnees) be­came frus­trated and left the move­ment be­cause the Spe­cial Par­ti­san Unit (Sparu) of NPA has tried to kill them sev­eral times.

This is the prob­lem when there is a cover-up on the real events, he added. “This is a bla­tant lie.”

This is Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines (CPP)-NPA-NDF cov­er­ing-up their strat­egy of ag­i­tat­ing the peo­ple that went bad, he said.

“Karumal­du­mal ang kani­lang pag­sis­i­n­un­gal­ing. Sana tig­i­lan na natin yan at makita rin sana ng taong bayan kung anong klaseng tao sila (Their lies are dis­gust­ing! I hope it will end and peo­ple will see what kind of per­sons they are),” Arevalo said.

If they are ask­ing for a Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the Sa­gay in­ci­dent, I fully sup­port that as soon as pos­si­ble to know the truth, Arevalo said.

The four for­mer rebels are now un­der po­lice cus­tody for safe­keep­ing.

Mean­while, Chief In­spec­tor Robert Man­sueto, city po­lice chief, said their in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the mur­der case is still on­go­ing.

New devel­op­ment on the case will be re­leased soon by the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Task Group which is fo­cus­ing on the mat­ter, he added.

Man­sueto re­it­er­ated that they are still look­ing to three an­gles on the case – the NPA in­volve­ment, land owner’s pri­vate armed groups, and land dis­pute.

But he said they are close to find­ing out more in­for­ma­tion since mul­ti­ple mur­der charges were al­ready filed against two NFSW mem­bers and seven John does.

As to the mi­nor-wit­ness, Man­sueto said there was an agree­ment be­tween the mother and the City So­cial Wel­fare and Devel­op­ment (CSWD) that the 14-year-old boy, who has a first-hand in­for­ma­tion about the in­ci­dent, will be brought to the prov­ince any­time if he is needed for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But as of now, they are re­port­edly in Manila af­ter they were al­legedly taken into cus­tody by Kara­p­atan­negros.*

GLAZYL MASCULINO

THE four for­mer mem­bers of the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) in their first pub­lic ap­pear­ance at Balay Kauswa­gan in Sa­gay City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal. They were tagged in the killing of the nine farm­ers.

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