2018 October 21 – “How much blood is in your sugar?”

Anakbayan-Canada statement on Sagay massacre

Youth group Anakbayan-Canada condemns the massacre of nine agricultural workers in Hacienda Nene, Sagay City, Negros, central Philippines on October 20. We stand with the Filipino people in the the martyrs’ call for land rights and justice on the occasion of the peasant and indigenous peoples month in the country.

The nine victims of Sagay massacre, including four women and two minors, were from different villages and were members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW). Earlier that day the group participated in ‘bungkalan‘ or land cultivation to assert their basic rights to cultivate the land, in a campaign for genuine agrarian reform and free land distribution. NFSW assertively occupies idle lands and communally does bungkalan activities.

Sagay City police identified the victims as:
• Eglicerio Villegas, 36, from Barangay Bulanon • Angelipe Arsenal, from Barangay Bulanon • Alias Pater, from Barangay Plaridel • Dodong Laurencio, from Barangay Plaridel • Morena Mendoza, female, from Barangay Bulanon • Neknek Dumaguit, female • Bingbing Bantigue, from Barangay Plaridel • Joemarie Ughayon Jr., 17, from Barangay Rafaela Barrera • Marchtel Sumicad, 17, from Barangay Bulanon

Negros island’s sugar industry is directly responsible for 25 percent of employment of local farm workers. Hacienda Nene with around 75 hectares (as big as University of Toronto’s downtown campus) is under the government’s agrarian reform program. Why haciendas still exist in the country since the Spanish and American colonial period is not altogether clear. While these vast lands remain undistributed, the farmhands then tilled to make it productive.

In the context of an agricultural country like the Philippines, the sugar workers of Negros island are among the poorest. These people are not farmers, for whom the production of agricultural commodities is a business; nor were they simply just peasants, tillers of soil they owned or could treat as their own. They are landless farmhands who had to sell their labour to eat and had to struggle against hunger wages and ‘tiempo muerto‘, the dead season for sugarcane plantations. But the fighting proletariat is dexterous, even heroic, like the protean sweet substance.

Sugar, for its place as common as our own tables at home, is kept as a slave crop grown under control by a few landlords until today. As the tillers have no land and the growers have no food, land reform is not enough. And, conversely, as long as feudal relations are kept, inequality and injustices push the workers to resist and find means to sustain themselves in any way possible.

Anakbayan enjoins concerned Canadians and the Filipino youth to stand with our agricultural workers. We must hold the Philippine state, the armed forces, and all the current regime’s accomplices accountable for all their atrocities against the peasant sector.

Justice for Sagay 9!
Stop the Killings!
End State Fascism!