Bishop calls for justice for 'Sagay 9' victims on Labor Day

A TOP church leader in Negros has called on government agencies to facilitate speedy justice for the victims of the "Sagay 9" massacre, as their diocese celebrates the dignity of human work on Labor Day Wednesday, May 1.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, in a statement Tuesday, April 30, urged pertinent government agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and local government unit (LGU) to hasten the resolution on the senseless killing of the farmer-victims in Sagay City.

Alminaza called on Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) to have pastoral accompaniment among the massacre survivors and families of those who were killed.

"The land issue as a very important economic aspect in the lives of our farmers must be part of reflections among our BEC cluster groups, so that our poor farmers may not feel alone in their plight," he said, adding that communal action on day-today economic life must be discerned in BEC meetings and activities.

These government agencies should also address the centuries-old problem of landlessness, and protect the lives of defenseless civilians whom they have sworn to defend and protect, Alminaza also said.

"We call on the evaluation of the AFP-led and LGU-funded Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA) if their existence is still warranted and how its abuses can be prevented," he added.

The Diocese of San Carlos is comprised of parishes in the cities of Canlaon and Guihulngan and towns of Vallehermoso and La Libertad in Negros Oriental.

In Negros Occidental, it covers the cities of San Carlos, Cadiz, Sagay and Escalante, and municipalities of Calatrava, Toboso, Salvador Benedicto and Manapla.

The diocese also called on leaders of farmers' groups to always make paramount the well-being of their fellow poor farmers thus, seeking to broaden support of their demands and course of action rather than resort to adventurist steps.

Landowners are urged to set an example in living out the Catholic social teaching of the "universal destination of goods," which is to prioritize the interest of the common good and denounce violence and greed.

Alminaza addressed this call to the faithful prompted by the Church's preferential option for the poor and due to moral and social justice considerations.

Also, these are recommendations based from the results of the fact-finding mission conducted by the Diocese of San Carlos and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last year.

Alminaza said the diocese remembers the departed sugar workers, the "Sagay 9" victims, who were massacred last October but whose murder is not given justice until today.

"The impunity in senseless killings resulting from the landlessness of our agricultural and farm workers are sad manifestations of where we are in our journey towards God's kingdom of love, justice and peace," he added.


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