Zubiri calls for in-depth probe on Negros farmworkers slay

MANILASenator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri on Monday pressed for an in-depth investigation on the killing of nine sugar workers, including women and children, in Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

"I condemn this killing in the heart of sugarland which is an important sector of our economy. I have just come from Bacolod in Negros and I feel disheartened by these deaths. However, I note a few positive developments consisting of the willingness of the landowner to talk with government, specifically the PNP and the offer of huge rewards by Gov. (Alfredo) MaraAon and his son who is the Mayor of Sagay City. I hope that these will lead to the early resolution of the case and killers be brought to the bar of justice," Zubiri said in news release.

"This violence should not be happening in this day and age since all agencies of government are bent on empowering the farm sector and farm incomes to grow. There are ways to help the farm sector, specifically the sugar industry. Farmers have become competitive as shown by the largest cooperatives in Southern Luzon. Let the fight be against poverty, not against defenseless farm workers," he added.

"It is disheartening to know that the dead who included women and minors are painted in a bad light by being migrant workers from other barangays such as Barangay Plaridel, also in Sagay City. The use of migrant workers is part and parcel of sugar plantation operations," Zubiri said.

Workers who were able to run away to a nearby hut and survivors, who were in the same hut as those killed, said numerous men attacked the farm workers.

Police noted that a gun and ammunition were found near the bodies. Found with the bodies were a paltik (home-made gun), a few .38-caliber bullets, empty magazines and ammunition for a 12-gauge shotgun. However, investigators said it was common for people in the area to own a gun.

Police estimated that 10 to 12 men attacked the farm workers. They are still determining if the killing involved strafing and whether the deaths resulted from a massacre, or a gunfight.

Negros Island is one of areas with large Land Acquisition and Distribution balances, according to the DAR. (Senate PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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