22 years after the bloody carnage
“All we want is piece of land”, says relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims
Quezon City, Philippines- “All we want is a piece of land that we can till and call our own. But what we got from them the state was bullets.”
Twenty two years after the bloody carnage, relatives of the infamous Mendiola Massacre said they want to move on and continue with what their husbands and relatives pursued two decades ago, but the horrible event kept on visiting them like day-to-day nightmares.
After their 7-day camped out at the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR), from January 15-21, 1987 on January 22, leaders and members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), numbering about 15,000 decided to march from the agrarian reform office to Liwasang Bonifacio and then to Mendiola.
In Mendiola, military and police elements open fired and peppered the farmers and their sympathizers with bullets. Thirteen marchers, mostly farmers from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions were killed and identified as 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.
Aside from the 13 farmers who were killed by state security forces, reports also said 39 marchers sustained gunshot wounds and 32 sustained minor injuries. “Let me set the record straight. What we want is a parcel of land but what the government gave to us were scores of bullets and in the aftermath of the massacre is a bankrupt, bogus, anti-farmer and pro-landlord agrarian reform program,” the Kilusang Enero 22 or KE 22 said in a press statement.
KE 22, an assembly of relatives of Mendiola Massacre added that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) passed by Congress during the time of former President Corazon Aquino was a comprehensive failure and merely sustained the 22-year old wounds caused by the Mendiola Massacre.
“How can you have justice with CARP? It is not a social justice program but an instrument for further landgrabbing, further denial of peasant land rights and class exploitation by the landlord few. CARP is part of the long-running injustice committed to the victims of Mendiola Massacre,” KE 22 said. .
Relatives want GARB
KE 22 said it is actively supporting the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.
“We hope the leadership of House Speaker Prospero Nograles will move on and act with dispatch and resolution in favor of HB 3059. This social justice measure is necessary for the cause of land and justice across-the-country,” relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims added.
GARB which is still pending before the House Committee on Agrarian Reform will cover all agricultural lands and have these lands distributed for free to all landless, land lacking and willing to till farmers all over the country, according to KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella, a survivor of Mendiola Massacre.
KMP’s Marbella said lands operated by transnational corporations, including commercial farms ran by big agribusiness groups shall be nationalized in favor of farmworkers and agricultural workers who would be trained to manage and operate these large plantations and commercial agri-business farms.
In the case of sullied lands, or lands acquired through fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force and violence, these would be subjected to confiscation, while landlords who acquired their landholdings without any shades of blood debts or crimes against their tenants will receive just compensation and shall be paid by the state based on the average tax assessment on the land for the immediate last three years preceding the effectivity of the act.
The KMP leader said farmer beneficiaries are guaranteed with security of tenure and sustained support systems to make the awarded lands more productive and more responsive to the needs of the farmers and the Filipino public in general.
Meanwhile in Hacienda Luisita, farmworkers continue to cultivate more than 1,800 hectares of the hotly disputed sugar estate outside the framework of the 20-year old CARP.
“The key to this success story is the determination of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers to challenge and fight the Stock Distribution Option scheme legitimized by the bogus CARP. Now, the farmworkers and poor farmers of Hacienda Luisita are reaping the fruits of their labor,” the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said in a press statement.
UMA public information officer Rey Calaguing said the hacienda farmworkers and poor farmers are planting various crops in more than 1,800 hectares like rice and vegetables. “We are encouraging more farmers to join and form themselves into cooperation units to be able to cover other hectares for their livelihood. This is peasant class power in full swing,” he said.
UMA said the current “bungkalan” campaign has already benefited 838 families or roughly 1,676 individuals spread in the barangays of Malapacsiao (244.5 hectares), Asturias (209.93 hectares), Bantog (258 hectares), Cut-Cut (275.9 hectares), Balite (153.4 hectares), Mutrico (248 hectares), Pando (163 hectares), Texas (140 hectares), Pasajes (60 hectares) and Parang (51.5 hectares).
Camp-out in HOR, march to Mendiola.
The KMP together with the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, UMA, Amihan peasant federation and farmer groups Kalipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) will stage a three-day camp-out at the House of Representatives beginning on Monday.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said about 1,000 farmers will participate in the camp-out from Jan.19-21 in Batasan Complex. He said farmers and fisherfolk will conduct mass lobbying with congressmen starting Monday and update lawmakers on the current situation of farmers and explain to lawmakers the necessity of passing HB 3059.
“We will seek an audience with House Speaker Prospero Nograles. That is one of the objectives of the three-day peasant camp-out in Batasan. We will not entertain any kind of political snub, that’s for sure,” warned Hicap.
On Jan.22 farmers will march from DAR to Mendiola to officially end the four-day peasant march for land and justice. The Pamalakaya leader said the march to Mendiola will be joined by militant groups under the umbrella alliance of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Hicap said some 1,500 placards bearing the face of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be slashed and burned in Mendiola to show the peasant’s collective outrage against the brutal and anti-rural regime of President Arroyo and the farmers’ resolve to fight for genuine land reform. #