As peasant groups and activists mark the 33rd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre with a protest at the Mendiola bridge in Manila, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas and Anakpawis Party-list said that the Duterte administration responds with violence to the legitimate pleas for genuine land reform of poor farmers across the country.
The militant groups said this is manifested with the mounting number of victims of extrajudicial killings of peasant activists, with cases of massacres or instances of multiple victims.
“Ang kalagayan noon ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda ay pareho pa rin sa kasalukuyan, walang lupa at nakalubog sa kahirapan. Lehitimo ang panawagan para sa Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa at Pangisdaan, pero ang palagiang tugon ng gubyerno mula noon hanggang sa ilalim ni Duterte, ay karahasan, human rights violations at massacres. Ngayong araw ng anibersaryo ng Mendiola Massacre, sigaw namin ang hustisya para sa mga biktima nito, laluna kay Sonny Boy Perez na mangingisda mula Hagonoy, Bulacan,” former Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said during the protest.
He also said that during that time fisherfolk activists have been usual victims of human rights abuses, such as the case of nine fish-pond workers who were massacred by the 42nd Marine Company in Paombong on April 28, 1989, and Efren Concepcion, Vice-Chairperson of Bangkalis, the Bulacan provincial fisherfolk group, who was abducted and beheaded by the elements of Integrated National Police (INP), CAFGUs (Citizens' Armed Forces Geographical Units) on Feb. 11, 1990. Pamalakaya also called for justice for fisherfolk victims of the Corazon Aquino and Ramos regime, who it recognizes as martyrs of the fisherfolk movement. Willie Casas
They fell victims to counter-insurgency programs guided by the Total War Policy, or the inclusion of civilian communities and activists as legitimate targets of their armed forces.
The group’s list included: 1. 1987, Senen Dela Cruz, fisherfolk from Bulacan; 2. 1988, the victims of Laguna Lake Massacre; 3. 1990, Carlito Caluag, from Bulacan; 4. 1990, Bembol Mercado, from Bulacan; 5. 1991, Jerry Mercado, from Bulacan; 6. 1993, Alejandro “Loloy” Savilla, Pamalakaya Mindanao Chairperson, killed in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte; 7. 1993, Felix “Dodong” Conol, in Butuan City; 8. 1993, Ricardo “Carding” Corpuz, in Navotas; 9. 1998, Roberto “Totet” Bornales, in Palawan. Real legacy: Justice and Free Distribution of Land.
The Mendiola massacre was an incident that took place in Mendiola Street, San Miguel, Manila, Philippines on Jan. 22, 1987, in which state security forces violently dispersed a farmers' march to Malacañan Palace in protest of the lack of government action on land reform.
Calls for just and comprehensive land reforms to President Corazon Aquino sparked rallies and demonstrations participated by farmers, workers, and students. According to reports, antiriot personnel guised as civilians, opened fire on unarmed protesters killing at least 12 and injuring 51 protesters.
On the other hand, Casilao slammed the Duterte regime as comparable to the Corazon Aquino regime as it rules with extrajudicial killings and massacres against peasant activists in the country.
He said that the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has documented cases of at least 243 peasant victims of extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s watch, including at least 13 cases of massacres and serial killings.
“We demand justice for the victims of Mendiola Massacre, as we demand justice for the victims under the present regime. The latest atrocities under Duterte’s watch is the Sagay Massacre in Negros, and the December 2018 and March 2019 Negros mass killings,” Casilao said during the protest.
He dared the Duterte regime to resolve the decades-long Mendiola Massacre injustice by at least compensating the families of the 13 peasant victims namely: Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Grampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez, and Roberto Yumul. In 2004, then Anakpawis Party-list Representative and present-KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano drummed up a compensation bill akin to the Republic Act 10368 Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
“I dare the Duterte regime to enact a reparation law for victims of Mendiola Massacre. This should engrave the bloody human rights record of the Cory Aquino regime and failure of her promise of agrarian reform on the country’s legal records, as what the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act did on the atrocities of the Marcos dictatorship.”
Finally, he challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to seriously pursue and resume the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“If Duterte really intends to leave a momentous legacy, amid his trolls busying themselves with bootlicking, he should seal and finalize the agreement on socio-economic reforms, that will seriously address the root causes of the armed conflict in the country,” he said.
The NDFP’s draft of Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) pushes for free distribution of land to poor farmers and nationalization of agricultural plantations in the country.
“An approved CASER, with the provision of free distribution of land to poor farmers, benefitting tens of millions of families in the countryside, is the real legacy, not the garbage his fanatics are attempting to craft,” he added.
Both said that the protest marking the Mendiola Massacre will be endless until genuine agrarian reform is realized in the country.
“Ang sigaw ng masang magsasaka mula noon hanggang ngayon, Lupa at Hustisya, Ipaglaban!” both chanted separately during the protest.