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Private army responsible for Sagay massacre —NFSW

The massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last week is being blamed on the alleged "private army" of "powerful landlords" in the area.

In a statement on Saturday, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) stood by a fact-finding mission's result linking Hacienda Nene's lessee or "aryendador" to the killing.

The mission was organized by human rights groups including the NFSW, Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and other organizations.

They described lessee as a "close relative of a powerful landlord," who maintains a "private armed group" composed of Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) members.

"Local SCAA are locally known to protect haciendas in Negros and are under the control of the local government," the NFSW said.

The fact finding mission also reportedly traced the "same pattern" of killings from the Sagay massacre to the killings of some of the organization's leaders that reportedly took place in two different haciendas in the city.

They cited the deaths of NFSW Sagay chapter chairwoman Flora Jimola in December last year and member Ronald Manlanat in January this year.

"In light with this new evidence, NFSW Secretary General John Milton 'Butch' Lozande calls the public to hold the landlords, their agents, and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) accountable to the massacre," the statement said.

But, the AFP claims that the massacre  was part of an alleged communist plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Also, the PNP had identified a member of the New People's Army (NPA) as among the suspects who carried out the attack. —LBG, GMA News