MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has tasked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take a closer look into the circumstances surrounding the Oct. 20 massacre of nine sugar farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
"(The) NBI has submitted a progress report. I directed them to investigate more deeply," Guevarra said in a message to reporters Thursday.
"It's basically a narration of what happened before, during, and after the attack, based on the accounts of witnesses. but no clear indication yet as to who were the perpetrators," he added.
The murder of nine farmers occurred in a farm at Hacienda Nene, Purok Firetree, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City.
The farm, owned by a certain Carmen Tolentino, was occupied by alleged members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) on the morning of Oct. 20, a day after Tolentino harvested the sugar canes.
Witnesses claimed that the victims were resting inside their improvised tents when they were allegedly fired upon by around 40 unidentified armed men.
Some of the farmers escaped but nine died in the attack, with three of the victims allegedly burned by their assailants.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department asked the NBI to investigate whether the murder of 56-year-old civil rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos was connected to the Sagay incident.
Ramos, a founding member of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), was shot dead in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Tuesday night in an attack by motorcycle-riding men along Rojas St., Barangay 5, about 3 km. away from a police station.
The victim, a resident of Baranggay Binicuil in the same city, was brought to the Holy Mother of Mercy Kabankalan City Hospital after suffering from three gunshot wounds at the right back side and upper left portion of his chest but was declared dead on arrival by Dr. Ruffa Vicete.
Police Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas) director, Chief Supt. John C. Bulalacao, condemned the attack.
The NUPL confirmed that Ramos was part of a team that they sent to assist the victims of the Oct. 20 Sagay incident. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency