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Police probes landowners, donees in Sagay 9 massacre

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SAGAY CITY — The Sagay City Police Station is obtaining the statements of the landowner, lessor, and recipients of the sugarcane farm where the Sagay 9 massacre took place last month in Negros Occidental as part of the ongoing investigation.

Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, acting city police chief, said during a press conference in Balay Kauswagan here Friday that the investigators are almost done securing the statements of these individuals after meeting with them several times.

“The initial documents are with us. We just want to say that we have done our job before we file the case,” he said.

On October 26, the Sagay City police filed a multiple murder case before the Sagay City Prosecutor’s Office against two suspects, Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, identified as recruiters of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), and seven other unidentified persons.

During the press conference, Mansueto dismissed allegations that the Special Investigation Task Force excluded the landowners in the investigation, adding that they could not have obtained the lease contract and other related documents if they have not included the landowner and the lessor.

“We have told the families, it is still one of the angles we are focusing on. It is not being ignored,” he added.

The police is looking at three angles: first, the crime may have been perpetrated by the landowner, possibly using hired goons; second, by those who are legitimate claimants; and third, by the New People’s Army with the aim of discrediting the government, military and police.

The nine fatalities, identified as members of the NFSW, were Eglicerio Villegas, Angelife Arsenal, Rene Laurencio Sr., Paterno Baron, Morena Mendoza, Marcelina Dumaguit, Rannel Bantigue, and minors Marchtel Sumikad and Joemarie Ogahayon.

They were killed on the night of October 20 at Hacienda Nene, Purok Firetree in Barangay Bulanon after their group occupied the sugarcane field earlier that day.

In a case report presented last month, the SITG said the farm land at Hacienda Nene, which spans 34.59 hectares based on the land title, had been donated by owner Carmen de la Paz Tolentino to 25 individuals. Allan Simbingco has been identified as the lessor.

Meanwhile, the victims’ families who also attended the press conference denied knowing or having met slain lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr., who was reported as one of the legal counsels for the Sagay 9 kin.

One of the male relatives said the only lawyer they have met related to the case was Sagay City Prosecutor Ronald Yngson.

A female family member also said they have not met Ramos and don’t want the issue of his death to take away the focus on the investigation of the Sagay massacre. (PNA)