NegOcc massacre part of ‘Red October’ plot: AFP chief

MANILA — The country’s military chief has linked the massacre of nine workers in a sugar farm in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Oct. 20 to the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) “Red October” ouster plot that security forces earlier exposed.

“It is obvious that there is a sinister plot, there is some orchestration. We see that this is well-orchestrated and there is indeed a plot. Meaning, when they put the nine poor civilians in the farm, they know that incident will already happen,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Wednesday.

Galvez said the incident was aimed at putting President Rodrigo Duterte and the government in a bad light.

The killings in Negros Occidental and other areas in the country, he said, are connected to the documents they have gathered and are willing to declassify if necessary.

“This is what we saw and this is what we are afraid of. Had we not revealed their plans (to the media), it might have been bigger. (In Camarines Sur), they ambushed a non-combatant secretary of FDA (Food and Drugs Administration). They are trying to sow fear (and show) that they are still around and they are a force to reckon (with). What PNP (Philippine National Police) Chief Oscar Albayalde said about their acts as part of ‘Red October’ is here. We called it ‘Red October’ because they will make this October bloody,” Galvez said.

The military chief earlier said that a thorough investigation is already ongoing to establish the identities and motives of the suspects behind the crime.

“Various government agencies, including the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) are jointly working on the investigation,” he said, adding that what is known as of this time is that the victims were all recruits of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), a front organization of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA).

“In fact, they were recruited, after paying PHP500 for one hectare of land, less than two days before the incident,” Galvez added.

And according to the families, residents, and authorities in the area, the victims were not workers in the farm or claimants to the land.

“DAR has also claimed that the victims are not entitled beneficiaries. They were brought there by their recruiters from the NFSW who left just before the shooting happened,” Galvez said.

This incident, he said, confirms earlier reports that the CPP has been hatching plans to oust the Duterte Administration by rousing civil unrest and discrediting the government.

Oplan Bungkalan

Galvez explained that this is part of the CPP’s “Oplan Bungkalan”, a nationwide campaign to mobilize farm workers to rally for the cause of the communists marketed as a struggle for agrarian reform, and is to take advantage of farmers and use them as bait.

“By manipulating, deceiving, and exploiting the needs of these farmers, the NFSW has put the lives of these farmers in grave danger by pitting them against the landowner and other land claimants in the area, with the end of jumpstarting an orchestrated nationwide protest by leftist groups,” he said.

The AFP chief said he is convinced that when the conclusive findings of the investigation have been released, the CPP-NPA and its puppet organization, the NFSW, would have blood in their hands.

“As to the alleged involvement of the AFP in the killing of nine farmers, DAR Secretary John Castriciones has already categorically denied the AFP and the police’s involvement in the killings and clarified that the incident is a land conflict,” he added.

Galvez called on leftist groups to substantiate their allegations and give the families some reprieve and consolation by not propagandizing and politicizing the incident.

“While the investigation is ongoing, we have extended our sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and we have committed to provide any assistance to ensure that justice will be served and the perpetrators will be put behind bars,” he said.

Galvez said the AFP, DAR, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and local government units of Negros Occidental are working together to give immediate and long-term aid to the victims’ families and to ensure that justice is served.

“The government and its security forces will work together to resolve the social cancer and land conflict in the area. The AFP is one with the farming communities of Negros and the whole country in these trying times,” Galvez said.

“We call on all workers to be more perceptive and vigilant in order to protect their interests from being exploited by front organizations of the CPP-NPA and by personalities who may use the incident as leverage for their political ambitions,” he added.