The military has assailed a militant former lawmaker, as well as communist rebels, for tagging the Armed Forces and militiamen as the killers of nine sugar farmers in Negros Occidental.
In a statement, the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division Commander, General Dolina, yesterday said, “as expected, the AFP is again being blamed by the Reds and their sympathizers for the reported shooting incident” in Sagay City.
That is, even the alleged lone crime witness had named a group of unidentified “goons” as the killers .
“So what else is new?” the AFP unit asked as it slammed ex-Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares for suggesting soldiers were responsible for the shooting incident on Saturday at Hacienda Nene in Bgy. Bulanon.
The left-leaning Colmenares, who is running for senator in the 2019 polls, is a native of Negros Occidental.
“We strongly condemn the murder of the sugar farmers. The killing was not committed by soldiers. Even Colmenares knows that. Sadly, he has become an expert in pointing the guilty finger on the military,” said the AFP unit.
The unit also brushed aside the AFP critics’ claim that this incident resulted from the “red tagging” of the victims and their group National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).
“Unfortunately, the so-called links between NFSW and communist insurgents are true. No less than rebel returnees had validated that,” it pointed out.
It also hit the New People’s Army for using the Sagay incident in its anti-AFP propaganda campaign.
“They’re prioritizing propaganda instead of seeking justice for the dead sugar farmers. They are focusing on blaming the AFP instead of finding out who the killers are. That’s really pathetic,” the unit stressed.
Army intelligence operatives are currently conducting a parallel investigation of this incident along with the Philippine National Police.
The dead sugar farmers were identified as Eglicerio Villegas, Angelita Arsenal, Paterno Baroy, Rene Laurencio, Morena Mendoza, Marcelina Dumaguit, Rommel Bantigue, Jomarie Ogbayon and Michael Sumicad, all Sagay residents.
Like the families of the victims, the Army expressed hope the ongoing probe would lead to the identificationn and subsequent arrest of the killers.
The 3ID commander is in Sagay City since yesterday to personally look into the investigation. “We are here .. on the ground.. Rep Colmenares is not..” he points out. The army wonders where Colmenares gets his facts.
General Dolina stresses “the Army wants justice as much as the families of the victims do”.