‘Sagay 9’ remembered with mass, outreach for victims’ kin

By Nanette Guadalquiver

October 21, 2019, 6:04 pm

<p><strong>DIALOGUE.</strong> Maj. Antonio Benitez Jr. (standing), chief of Sagay City Police Station, along with officers of the Philippine Army’s 79IB, meets with the families of the “Sagay 9” victims in the northern Negros City on Sunday (Oct. 20, 2019). The dialogue was part of the activities that commemorated the first anniversary of the massacre that took place on Oct. 20, 2018. <em>(Photo courtesy of 79IB, Philippine Army)</em></p>

DIALOGUE. Maj. Antonio Benitez Jr. (standing), chief of Sagay City Police Station, along with officers of the Philippine Army’s 79IB, meets with the families of the “Sagay 9” victims in the northern Negros City on Sunday (Oct. 20, 2019). The dialogue was part of the activities that commemorated the first anniversary of the massacre that took place on Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo courtesy of 79IB, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY -- A mass and an outreach were held on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the killing of nine farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 20 last year.

The commemoration activities were initiated by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB), Sagay City Police Station, City of Sagay, and the Barangay Council of Bulanon.

“We initiated this as we would like to our extend sympathies to the families of the victims. Their innocence should be given justice. They were only promised by insurgents to join their unlawful activities,” Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of 79IB, said in a statement on Monday.

He added that government institutions commemorated the event to “give value to the innocent lives deceived by the left-leaning parties and militant groups.”

Aside from the mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Erwin Magnanao, other activities included a fun run from Crossing Bulanon going to City Proper joined by some 100 participants, tree-planting at Saint Joseph Parish Church, and a dialogue with the families of the victims.

Maj. Antonio Benitez Jr., chief of Sagay City Police Station, gave an update on the case during the meeting with the victims’ kin, who also received rice and cash assistance from the police.

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 of the northern Negros city after their group occupied the sugarcane field earlier that day to demand for their piece of land in the property.

The victims were also identified as members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

The police had filed murder complaints against those allegedly involved in the massacre, including Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, who were identified as NFSW recruiters.

The victims were allegedly enticed to join the NFSW and were manipulated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Assistant State Prosecutor Ferdinand Fernandez is handling the case, which is pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila.

The case was assigned to Fernandez after the Sagay City Prosecutor's Office and the Western Visayas Regional Prosecutor’s Office recused themselves from handling the preliminary investigation. (PNA)

 

 

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