The government sector and former New People’s Army insurgents are set to issue a “statement of apology” over the 1985 Escalante Massacre during the ongoing Northern Negros Peace Summit, which began last Thursday and ends this weekend, Saturday, September 21. Those offering the apology hope it serves as a signal for everybody to “move on and work together” towards the attainment of “genuine peace and progress.”
The Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Division, through its 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB), is one of the government units set to deliver a statement.
In a statement released by the 79IB, they said the army was not in any way involved in the massacre but they do accept the fact that the government failed to address the social issues being raised by peasants and marginalized sector, which prompted them to revolt.
They said the massacre would have been prevented had government forces succeeded in securing and maintaining peace and order.
On September 20, 1985, protesters, comprised mostly of peasants, gathered in front of then-Escalante Town Hall carrying banners and chanting slogans. They were surrounded by paramilitary forces who tried to neutralize the situation but failed, which resulted in an incident that claimed the lives of at least 20 and injured many others.
The summit is being attended by various sectors including local government units, the academe, religious sector, kin of massacre victims, among others./DGB, WDJ