On November 29, peasant, church and other advocates observed the traditional Catholic commemoration of the 40th day of death of the nine members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), commonly known as the Sagay massacre of October 28, 2018. Similar activities were held in Escalante and Bacolod, Negros Occidental.
In Manila, an exhibit made by Sinagbayan, with a belen in the shape of the massacre victims hut when they were killed surrounded by cadavers were set up in Plaza Miranda. There was also a mass in Quiapo Church where the names of the nine were read in the Sacristy and a memorial program was held after the mass.
According to NFSW Secretary General John Milton Lozande, up to now justice has not only eluded the massacre victims, and their leaders and organization have been continually vilified, but a state of emergency has been declared in Negros Occidental using the massacre as an alibi for more troop deployments in the province.
Reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he will have Negros Island undergo agrarian reform, NFSW said this is only a publicity stunt.
NFSW records showed that Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr., his Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, other local government officials and even some Congressmen are part of the 1,727 medium and large landlords, who according to the figures of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) control 51.63% of the 222,637.7 sugar cane areas of Negros Island. The rest are owned by small landlords and farmers.
NFSW also noted that Alfredo Marañon is Duterte’s ally.
NFSW said such pouring of more state security forces in the province and in the whole Negros Island would not lead to the so-called peace and order which military and police officials want the public to believe. They will be there primarily to protect the interests of big landlords who still lord over the Island.
The group also recorded 47 extra judicial killings (EJKs) of sugar workers and farmers in Negros, most were due to land conflicts.
Right after human rights lawyer Ben Ramos was murdered in Kabankalan on November 6, Clarizza Singson of Karapatan-Negros, Rolando Rillo and Christian Tuayon of the NFSW, and Noli Rosales of the Kilusang Mayo Uno received death threats.
Just after the president ordered a state of emergency in Negros, staff workers Felipe Levy Gelle Jr. and Enrita Caniendo of the Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group, which Ramos founded, also received death threats.