NPA may be behind Negros Occidental attack — PNP

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Police say the victims may have been set up by sugar workers linked to the NPA. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — Police said the New People's Army (NPA) may be behind the massacre of nine people in Negros Occidental on Saturday.

C/Supt. John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police chief, said they are looking into possible rebel involvement based on witnesses' accounts.

"The incident may be perpetrated by the landowner, second this may be perpetrated by the other claimants…third 'yung possible involvement of the New People's Army," Bulalacao told the media Monday.

Bulalacao said they have yet to identify the perpetrators but they are investigating some members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) who may have links to the NPA.

"Kung mapapansin rin 'yung hacienda may tillers and accordingly may 40 farmers na legitimate although some may have been linked to the New People's Army," Bulalacao added.

[Translation: The hacienda has tillers and around 40 legitimate farmers although some may have been linked to the New People's Army.]

He said the victims were new NFSW recruits. Based on their investigation, the victims were escorted to the plantation by the federation's core group members. The core group members briefly left the victims in their improvised tents before the new members were attacked.

"Based on the information we gathered itong mag biktima ay dalawang araw palang na miyembro ng National Federation of Sugar Workers so mga bago sila, at pinaalis sa isang lugar para mag-occupy doon, maisettle doon. Yung mga recruiters ng NSFW ay umalis and a few minutes binaril sila," Bulalacao said.

[Translation: Based on the information we gathered, these victims have been members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers for two days, they were new members before they were asked to settle in the area. The recruiters  of the NSFW left and a few minutes the victims were shot.]

However, the NSFW in Negros Occidental denied that the incident was set up by its members.

Bulalacao said the NPA may have set up the attack to raise public doubt against the government.

"We came up with our angle, this was perpetrated by the New People's Army in pursuance of this campaign to discredit the Philippine government," he said.

Director General Oscar Albayalde, PNP chief, said a special investigation task group has been created for the case.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the police sentiments, saying the case may have been a communist-to-communist encounter.

In an interview with the government radio station Monday, Panelo said the slain farmers were communist recruits.

"Iyong federation ng farmers kung saan miyembro iyong mga taong ito, eh lumalabas na legal front ng CPP-NPA at iyong mga pinatay ay bagong recruit pa lang daw iyon the day before pinatay sila," Panelo told Radyo Pilipinas.

[Translation: The federation of farmers in which the victims were members of turned out to be a legal front of the CPP-NPA. And the slain farmers were said to be new recruits the day before the incident.]