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Lawyer charged over missing witness to Sagay massacre

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By Aaron Recuenco 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has filed a case of kidnapping against a female lawyer affiliated with militant human rights group Karapatan for allegedly abducting a 14-year old witness to the killing of nine sugar farmers in Sagay City last month.

MASSACRE SCENE – Some of the farmers were resting inside their tents when a group of gunmen opened fire on them, police said. (Photo courtesy of DYEZ Radyo Bacolod/ MANILA BULLETIN)

MASSACRE SCENE – Some of the farmers were resting inside their tents when a group of gunmen opened fire on them, police said. (Photo courtesy of DYEZ Radyo Bacolod/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Supt. Joem Malong, spokesperson of the Western Visayas regional police, said the kidnapping case was leveled against lawyer Katherine Panguban on Wednesday afternoon before the Sagay City Prosecutors Office.

Malong said the case stemmed from the report they received that the minor was allegedly taken from the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) by Panguban.

Panguban is reportedly a member of Karapatan based in Bacolod City.

Malong said the father of the 14-year old minor sought police assistance as he could no longer locate his son.

Earlier, Western Visayas regional police director Chief Supt. John Bulalacao accused the militant group Karapatan of obstructing the investigation on the death of nine farmers who occupied a portion of a sugarcane plantation in Sagay City on October 20.

Bulalacao said the local militant activists have been convincing the relatives of those who were killed not to talk with the police and military and even conditioning their mind that government forces were the ones who killed the farmers.

“They have been taking away our witnesses and convincing other family members not to cooperate in the filing of the case,” said Bulalacao.

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