23 October 2018

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment condemns the recent massacre of nine land defenders in Sagay, Negros Occidental. We are also exasperated over the different cover-up stories concocted by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Agrarian Reform, and Malacanang itself for depicting the massacre of nine land defenders in Sagay, Negros Occidental as merely as the handiwork of the New People’s Army, or as part of ‘Communist Destabilization’ plots instead of doing their job of thoroughly and impartially investigating and holding to account the real perpetrators of the massacre.

Red-tagging seems to be weapon of choice for the government to derail public attention from their incompetence if not complicity in this vile and vicious attack. Promoting blanket impunity and blaming victims have been the only responses of the Duterte regime to peasants occupying and cultivating idle lands and land and resource grabs.

The ‘Sagay 9’ were only defending the land on which they have tilled and toiled–yet still denied rightful ownership–for generations. The National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) pegs the total area of sugarcane plantations supposedly up for agrarian reform distribution at 213,000 hectares, including the Sagay 9’s land cultivation area.

Impunity remains a problem for both environmental defenders and land defenders, especially under Duterte’s regime. Thus, we also echo the people’s call to conduct an independent investigation in order to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly crime to justice. The passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which aims to distribute landlords’ large land holdings among poor peasants for free is also being underscored.  #

Leon Dulce
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment