THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has submitted for resolution the complaint of a mother whose 14-year old son is allegedly being forced to stand as a witness in the Oct. 20, 2018 Sagay massacre. Lawyer Josalee S. Deinla, spokesperson of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said they expected a clarificatory hearing over the complaint but the prosecutor opted to wrap up the preliminary investigation and instead asked respondents to submit their rejoinder affidavit. The complaint was filed in Dec. last year against the boy’s father, Vic Elisan Pedaso, accusing him of psychological abuse for allegedly forcing his child and the mother to be in his custody. Also accused are Police Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, chief of Philippine National Police (PNP) Negros Occidental, police officers Julie Ann Diaz and PO Christine Magpusaw for violation of RA No. 7610 or Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and Rule on Examination of Child Witness. Lawyer Katherine A. Panguban of NUPL said last Dec. that the child is going to be used as witness for the narrative of the authorities, although the boy could not identify the faces of those who shot them. Nine sugar farmers, including two minors and four women, were shot dead by unidentified assailants in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

Meanwhile, Senator Leila M. De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 1034 seeking to probe the growing number of farmers killed by police. “There is an urgent need to investigate this escalating trend and spate of killings victimizing our farmers, making it imperative for the government and law authorities and institutions to develop mechanisms which can hold these perpetrators accountable in order for justice and the rule of law to be restored and upheld throughout our lands,” Ms. De Lima said, citing that at least 180 farmers have been killed since 2016 when President Rodrigo R. Duterte took office. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez