The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has created a special task force to investigate the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay, Negros Occidental on October 20, Saturday.
DAR Sec. John Castriciones announced the creation of the task force during a press briefing on Monday, October 22.
Castriciones also spoke with Philippine National Police (PNP) Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde to coordinate the investigation regarding the shooting incident.
The task force will be composed of officials from DAR, and implementing agencies of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Based on the initial investigation, a group of armed men opened fire at the victims, who are members of the Negros Foundation of Sugar Workers, while they were resting at Purok Firetree, Hacienda Nene.
Three bodies of the victims were also found to be burned by the suspects.
The nine victims were identified as Eglicerio Villegas, Angeliffa Arsenal, Paterno Baroy, Rene Laurencio Sr., Morena Mendoza, Marcelina Dumaguit, Rommel Bantigue, Jomarie Oghayon, and Marchtel Sumicad.
According to reports, the group occupied an area of Hacienda Nene, owned by a certain Carmen Tolentino, before the incident.
S/Supt. Rodolfo Castil, director of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police, also clarified that there were only five to seven gunmen, amidst reports that the perpetrators were at least 40 in number.
Meanwhile, the Sagay local government has offered a Php 500,000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest of the suspects.
From the said money, Php 250,000 will be coming from Sagay mayor Alfredo Marañaon III, while the additional Php 250,000 will be provided by his father Gov. Alfredo Marañaon Jr.