NEWS RELEASE:
Reference: Aldrin Aloquina, NFSW-North Negros
Address: Gamao St., Brgy. Balintawak, Escalante City / Email: norte.kalamay@gmail.com

Sagay NFSW Leader Illegally Arrested – Crackdown Against Farmers and Activists Continues Under Memo 32

A local leader of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Sagay City was illegally arrested by bonnet-clad state forces last December 19, around 7 o’clock in the evening.

The victim, Ricky Cañete, of legal age, married and a resident of Sitio Erlinda, Brgy. Gen. Luna, Sagay City was forcibly arrested by elements of Philippine National Police (PNP) in civilian clothes and bonnets. The attack was spearheaded by no less than the new Chief of Police of the Sagay City PNP, Antonio Benitez.

Cañete was allegedly served with warrants of arrest for trumped-up cases of two counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder.

According to Aldrin Aloquina, Vice-Chairperson of NFSW-Negros, “Ricky Cañete is a peasant leader in Brgy. Gen. Luna and the cases filed against him are fabricated. NFSW and its members are being red-tagged and are made targets of counter-insurgency operations under Memo 32 or Duterte’s Martial Law declaration here in Negros Island.”

The trumped-up murder and frustrated murder charges were filed against Cañete purportedly in relation to the New People’s Army’s (NPA) raid of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) detachment in Aliwanay, Brgy. Gen. Luna, Sagay City in 2016. The SCAA and their superiors at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were heavily humiliated due to the incident and could only vent their ire at unarmed farmers and NFSW members whom they accuse of being involved in the said raid.

“The accusations against Cañete are baseless. The arrest is obviously part of the government’s crackdown against farmers fighting for land rights in Sagay City, in Negros Island, and even in the whole country,” added Aloquina.

The worst and most merciless incident in this government crackdown is the brutal massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City last October. This gruesome crime was perpetrated by the same SCAA elements who were once deployed in the Aliwanay detachment. The SCAA is now based in Hacienda Lourdes Mirasol, Brgy. Rafaela Barrera in the same city.

In 2017, the SCAA was likewise involved in the strafing and burning of the peasant center of the local farmers cooperative also in Aliwanay, Brgy. Gen Luna. In that incident, the chairperson of Aliwanay-Luna Farmworkers Union was wounded. A carabao and a number of goats of the cooperative were also killed.

The same SCAA elements were also involved in the ruthless stabbing and killing of NFSW-Sagay City Chapter Chairperson Flora Jemola in December 2017, and the horrific murder of Ronald Manlanat, a member of NFSW in Hacienda Joefred, Gen. Luna, Sagay City last February 2018. Just like Cañete, Manlanat was also accused by Sagay City PNP of being involved in the 2016 SCAA detachment raid in Aliwanay.

“As members of progressive organizations in North Negros, we shall continue the peasant struggle, most especially in defending human rights against worsening abuses of the Duterte government and its armed forces. Instead of giving justice to the victims of Sagay 9 Massacre and other victims of extra-judicial killings in the island, Duterte’s Memo 32 warrants more human rights violations such as the red-tagging and illegal arrest of farmers like Ricky Cañete,” ended Aloquina.

Free Ricky Cañete! Free All Political Prisoners!
Junk Memo 32! Oppose Martial Law!
Justice for Sagay 9! Justice for all victims of peasant killings!


National Federation of Sugar Workers Northern Negro