Duterte’s statement, charges vs 2 NFSW leaders absolve real perpetrators in Sagay 9 massacre - Karapatan

President Duterte’s order to arrest or kill farmers who occupy land is reflective of the government’s long-existing practice of maintaining the feudal exploitation of peasants to maintain the interests of landlords and hacienderos in the Philippines. It shows how the government is complicit in the killings and rights violations against the peasants perpetrated by landlords and their private armies acting in cahoots with the military and police. Instead of implementing genuine agrarian reform to pave the way for land distribution to peasants, the government chooses to kill and arrest those who act to air their grievances and uphold their right to the land they have tilled and made productive for years.

Duterte’s condemnable statement comes as the Philippine National Police (PNP) filed multiple murder charges against two leaders of the National Federation of Sugar Workers - Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo – for the massacre of nine peasants in Sagay, Negros Occidental. Instead of going after the paramilitary Special Civilian Active  Auxiliary (SCAA), which includes former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA), the government shifts the blame to the peasants, whips up its malicious and baseless Red October conspiracy, and absolves the real perpetrators of the massacre. Aside from being under the direct command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the paramilitary group acts as the private army of Negros Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. 

Karapatan decries these attempts to deny justice for the Sagay 9. The real perpetrators of this injustice are the ones who benefit the most from the gruesome massacre – they who need to maintain their wealth, land and power, they who need to justify their killing spree and repressive policies, they who need to escape accountability for the rights violations they have long been accustomed to perpetrate. 

For reference: 

Roneo “Jigs” Clamor, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General, +639997721233

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580