NPA hiding one of Sagay massacre suspects: Police

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) has assailed the New People’s Army (NPA) for hiding one of the suspects, and vital witnesses in the Sagay City massacre.

The provincial police said in a statement on Sunday that government forces had discovered a group of people hiding inside the house of a woman at Purok Puting Bato, Barangay Washington in the neighboring Escalante City.

This happened after the Friday morning clash between the joint military and police forces and the NPA in the area, where two rebels were killed, according to the Philipppine Army.

Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, police provincial director, said that after the encounter, government forces made a “very significant discovery” inside the house of a certain Elena Yap.

“After the negotiation made by a barangay official, the government forces identified one person inside the house as one of the suspects in the Sagay incident and important witnesses to give light and genuine justice to the victims,” he said.

The police, however, did not identify the said suspect allegedly hiding inside the house.

“The elements of NPA encountered by government forces in Purok Puting Bato were deliberately hiding the suspect to escape the law and in their desperate attempt to influence and brainwash the witnesses in their favor,” Castil said. “It is clear that the NPA is using the community as a shield while collecting their revolutionary taxes and making their evil plans against the forces of the government.”

The police chief added that the “puzzle of the Sagay 9 incident is now clear,” naming the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army as the ones behind it.

Nine farmers, including two minors, who were members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), 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.

On Oct. 26, the Sagay City Police Station – headed by Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto – filed a multiple murder case against two suspects, NFSW recruiters Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, and seven other unidentified persons, before the Sagay City Prosecutor’s Office.

Castil said the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army “cannot afford to just wait to be attacked and harassed by the elements of NPA.”

“The government forces are ready any time to initiate a counter-offensive operation to arrest and thwart any treacherous plans by the NPA,” he added. (PNA/Nanette Guadalquiver)