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Ex-farmer a person of interest in Negros hacienda massacre – police

The site where 9 hacienda workers were massacred by unidentified gunmen. ABS-CBN News

MANILA – A former farmer is being eyed as a person of interest in the fatal shooting of 9 sugarcane workers in Sagay, Negros Occidental over the weekend, police said Monday.

The fatalities, all members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, allegedly occupied a private land in Hacienda Nene. They were eating dinner inside tents on Saturday night when they were shot by 5 to 6 gunmen, initial reports said.

Neighbors and 2 minors who survived the incident identified the person of interest and gave description for 4 of the gunmen, Sagay police chief C/Insp. Roberto Mansueto told radio DZMM,

Investigators are looking at land dispute as a possible motive in the massacre, he said.

Initial investigation revealed that the owner of Hacienda Nene had leased the land to the farmers, but their contract will end next year.

There are reports, however, that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has issued a Notice of Coverage to subject the area under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program of the government.

The police will clarify the status of the land with DAR, Mansueto said.

The provincial and town government are offering a reward of P500,000 for information that would help solve the massacre, he said.

The hacienda owner, he added, has given the assurance of cooperation with the probe.