Farmers commemorate 22nd year of Mendiola Massacre with burning of 1,500 photos of Arroyo

Farmers commemorate 22nd year of Mendiola Massacre with burning of 1,500 photos of Arroyo

Around 1,500 leftwing farmers identified with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) commemorate the 22nd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre by burning 1,500 pictures of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The farmers marched from the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City before going to Mendiola before proceeding to Mendiola.

“This is a political statement in honor of the 13 martyrs of Mendiola and millions of Filipino farmers who are victims of state repression and who are still struggling for land and justice. We want President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to perish in the fires of hell,” said KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella.

Marbella, together with other leaders of the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Amihan women peasant federation, Anakpawis party list, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and other militant organizations under the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan led protesters in burning 1,500 photos of the President, whom they described as the no.1 class enemy of Filipino farmers.

Marbella said aside from genuine land reform program and justice to all victims of Mendiola Massacre and political repression, the farmers are also calling for the immediate passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059.

The KMP leader asserted that GARB so far is the only progressive proposed piece of agrarian reform bill in the entire history of Congress. He said the heart and soul of GARB is free land distribution to all landless, land-lacking and willing-to-till farmers all over the country, which is not present in any previous agrarian reform laws and programs in the Philippines including CARP.

Marbella said just compensation will be given to landowners, except those involving sullied landholdings, or land holdings acquired to fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force or violence, and landholdings whose landowners employ oppressive and exploitative practices on their tenants, agricultural workers or other farmers tilling the land.

He added that enlightened landlords will be allowed to maintain five hectares under GARB provided that they will till the land and will not employ and exploit landless farmers or agricultural workers. “The implementation of genuine land reform and the passage of GARB as a social justice legislative agenda were envisioned by the farmers who joined the march to Mendiola 22 years ago. Please allow us to set the record straight that the farmers, including the victims of Mendiola Massacre did not demand for the bogus, anti-farmer and pro-landlord CARP,” the KMP stressed.

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. #

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