WHY do the authorities even bother to go about the motions of investigating the Sagay massacre when all their top honchos, from presidential mouthpiece Salvador Panelo, to Armed Forces chief Carlos Galvez, to PNP chief Oscar Albayalde have already cracked the case and named the supposed killers?
Hardly had the smoke cleared from the newly harvested field in Hacienda Nene, Barangay Bulanon where nine persons, including those of three women and two teenagers, were mercilessly executed – yes, a mass execution, each victim finished off with shots to the head, survivor Bobstil Sumicad, who lost his son Marchtil, 17, hearing one of the killers mockingly say, “You think you can escape?” followed by a gunshot – than Western Visayas police director John Bulalacao, sleuthing from his office in Iloilo City, declared the suspects to be the New People’s Army.
Never mind if the massacre was the obvious offshoot of a campaign by the National Federation of Sugar Workers to occupy and till land covered by agrarian reform that had yet, close to 30 years since the original Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was enacted, to be distributed to the tillers.
Never mind, too, that the NFSW has, for decades, been openly labeled a “legal front” of the NPA and Communist Party of the Philippines, often to justify the murder, disappearance, arrest and torture of its officers and members, as if anything even justified such brutality.
Of course Panelo, after offering the Palace’s “regrets” over the slaughter, quickly picked up Bulalacao’s theory and parroted it.
So did, in quick order, did Albyalde and Galvez. In fact, one might be tempted to ask if Galvez has a crystal ball: “I am very convinced that when the conclusive findings of the investigation have been released, the CPP-NPA and its puppet organization, the NFSW, will have blood on their hands.”
And of course, that champion of the landless, the Department of Agrarian Reform, weighed in with how the massacre victims were not agrarian reform beneficiaries, never mind that the agency had been stalling their petition to the land for close to a decade now.
There is no way to prove it, not that I think they will even admit it if there were, but I cannot shake off the suspicion that this, more than the weather, which was far from “inclement” as a Palace advisory described it, was what made President Duterte change his mind about visiting Sagay on Tuesday.
In fact, soon after, he, too, was parroting his subalterns’ lines, claiming that there are farmers who, “may mga tenants na original, pagkatapos ng harvest they go in and seize control using violence and intimidation, backed up by NPA.”
But see, I don’t believe Panelo or Albayalde or Galvez are idiots no matter how idiotic their statements are. In fact, I am pretty sure they know this.
But I am just as certain that they DON’T care.
For all their vows of justice for the victims, the priority is manhandling the narrative from “gunmen mow down farmers” to “rebels kill their own.” No, I don’t even think it is so much to protect whoever ordered and carried out the slaughter as so they can score propaganda points, most likely as part of their continuing effort to wipe the mud off their faces and insist “Red October” is not a delusion.
And that, to my mind, is what makes this most painful AND inexcusable, that their twisted narrative actually justifies the slaughter for their own twisted ends.
And THAT is the true face and nature of impunity. When the very agencies supposed to protect the people justify their failure or refusal to do so by blaming the people they are supposed to protect believing they can do so because there is nothing we, the people, can do about it.
Negrosanon who care about justice and democracy should not only be outraged that these people can even think they can do this to fellow Negrosanon, or to any person for that matter, and get away with it. We should disabuse them of the notion.
Why? If only because, if we allow this to go unchallenged, we can expect more and perhaps – though hopefully not – the next time it could be we or ours in the crosshairs.
Honestly, the way government routinely tramples on people’s rights begs the question: Why do we even bother to demand justice from it when it is clearly the last thing it is willing to grant us?
October 26, 2018
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