Police said the fatalities were members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW) who occupied the farm at Hacienda Nene in Purok Firetree Saturday morning.
The male fatalities were identified as Eglicerio Villegas, 36; Paterno Baron, 48; Rene “Dodong” Laurencio; and Rannel “Bingbing” Bantigue, 41, while the females were Angelife Arsenal, 47; Morena Mendoza; and Marcelina “Necnec” Dumaguit.
The two minors were identified as Jomarie Ughayon Jr., 16, and Marchtel Sumicad, 17.
The bodies of Mendoza, Bantigue and Dumaguit were allegedly burned by the assailants, the police report said.
Investigators led by Chief Insp. Roberto Mansueto, head of Sagay City Police Station, and personnel of 62nd Special Action Force team, proceeded to Barangay Bulanon after receiving information about the shooting that took place at about 9:30 pm.
The teams learned that the farm owned by Carmen Tolentino was occupied by NFSW members, a day after the harvest.
While the victims and their companions were resting inside improvised tents, a group of about 40 gunmen fired at them, immediately killing the nine.
Those who survived were able to run and seek refuge in various areas near the sugarcane farm.
Operatives from the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Crime Laboratory recovered 12 fired cartridges of 5.56-caliber rifle and seven others of caliber .45 along with a homemade .38-caliber pistol with a live cartridge and a fired cartridge case of the same firerarm.
The bodies of the nine victims were brought to FDN Memorial Chapel.
The Sagay City Police Station said investigators are eyeing land conflict as the motive of the incident.
Surviving witnesses were temporarily in police custody.
Chief Supt John Bulalacao, regional director of Police Provincial Office-6, ordered the use of all resources to ensure the arrest of the criminals.
He also ordered all filed commanders within the region to exert efforts to prevent similar attacks from occurring.
But the leftist Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns blamed the attack on the Armed Forces of the Philippine and private armies of the landlords, who continue to harass, threaten and kill farm workers.
“The massacre happened during peasant month in the light of massive land grabbing and land use conversion while peasants and hacienda workers continue to push for a genuine agrarian reform and their right to till their lands,” the group said in a statement. “In this continuous struggle of peasants and farm workers, the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] and private armies of the landlords continue to harass, threaten and kill them.” With PNAREAD: NPA blamed for massacre of 9 farmers
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