PNP files murder raps vs. 2 Sagay massacre suspects

BACOLOD CITY — Exactly a week after nine farmers were killed in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, the Philippine National Police has filed multiple murder case against two suspects and seven other unidentified persons.

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of Police Regional Office-Western Visayas, said in a press conference here on Saturday afternoon they charged Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, who were identified as recruiters of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

The case was filed by the Sagay City Police Station headed by Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto before the City Prosecutor’s Office late Friday afternoon.

“We have secured eight complainant-witnesses who gave their statements. One of them was a minor who survived. All of them were willing and voluntarily signed their affidavits,” said Bulalacao, who formed the Special Investigation Task Force to investigate the case.

Mansueto came with some of the complainant-witnesses during the press conference, also attended by Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil Jr., police provincial director, held at the headquarters of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office.

The nine fatalities — Eglicerio Villegas, Angelife Arsenal, Rene Laurencio Sr., Paterno Baron, Morena Mendoza, Marcelina Dumaguit, Rannel Bantigue, and minors Marchtel Sumikad and Joemarie Ogahayon — were killed on the night of Oct. 20 at Hacienda Nene, Purok Firetree in Barangay Bulanon after their group occupied the sugarcane field earlier that day.

The victims were also identified as members of the NFSW.

After the wake at the Sagay City gymnasium and at the homes of some of the victims, they will be laid to rest in separate funeral rites on Sunday.

“Upon the examination of the statements of the complainant-witnesses, there is only one common ground. That is, the recruiters deceived the victims and enticed them to join by promising them a parcel of land once their cause would succeed,” Bulalacao said.

He added that based on the result of the police investigation, the victims were used as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army’s (CCP-NPA) Oplan Bungkalan/Okupasyon — an agrarian reform revolution persuading innocent people by promising them land not knowing they will become part of a greater force that would generate outrage against the government.

“To the families of the victims, be assured that we will not stop our investigation to identify the assailants and bring justice to your family members who died in this incident,” Bulalacao said.

The Western Visayas police chief also assured the people of Negros Occidental that the police is “on top of the situation and we have doubled our efforts to maintain peace, order and security in our province.” Nanette Guadalquiver/