On January 22, 1987 at the historic Mendiola Bridge, soldiers drew first blood as they opened fire on demonstrators calling on the government to implement genuine agrarian reform. Since this resulted in 13 demonstrators being killed, this came to be known as the Mendiola Massacre which has been commemorated ever since. In remembering what happened 19 years ago, peasants once more literally shed blood.
BY GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
On the 19th year of the Mendiola Massacre, the peasants’ blood flowed once more, this time to seal an oath to give justice to the martyrs in the struggle for genuine agrarian reform.
Leaders of the progressive peasant alliance Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), survivors of the 1987 Mendiola massacre and the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre signed their names with their blood as they pledged their commitment to a manifesto to continue the peasant struggle and to oust the Macapagal-Arroyo regime.
The blood compact was the highlight of the protest in commemoration of the 1987 Mendiola Massacre as well as the 5th year of the EDSA People Power uprising. The protesters were blocked by a phalanx of police on Recto Avenue, about 200 meters away from the historic Mendiola Bridge.
KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos led the blood compact which he called “an oath as well as a declaration of war of the oppressed classes against President Arroyo and her regime’s move to make the 1987 Constitution more reactionary and submissive to the dictates of imperialist U.S.”
Beginning of GMA’s end
“This is the beginning of President Arroyo’s end,” declared Ramos as he and 10 other peasant leaders from Central and Southern Luzon went up a makeshift stage, cut themselves on their left arms, and let the blood flow into a coconut shell. One by one they dipped a rice stalk in blood and wrote Oust Gloria and other slogans on the manifesto which was pasted on a white cloth.
“Land and justice to victims of Mendiola Massacre! Junk Chacha, Junk Gloria!” chanted the crowd estimated at 3,000.
“This is it. There is no turning back. We will give what Mrs. Arroyo wants, and that is the peasant revolt in the next three months,” Ramos said. “The peasant blood compact promises 100 days of disquiet and stirring protests against the illegitimate President Arroyo and her gang of puppet, brutal and corrupt associates and their syndicated move to clinch Chacha and scrap the 2007 national elections,” said Ramos.
The protesters belonged to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Gloria Step Down Movement, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay or Alliance of Urban Poor Associations), Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), Migrante (Migrants), Anakbayan (Sons and Daughters of the People), Gabriela, party-list groups Bayan Muna (People First) and AnakPawis (Toiling Masses).
Ramos, a Mendiola Massacre survivor noted that the 1987 Constitution prior to its ratification through a plebiscite in February 1987 was presided with “mass slaughter of peasants by state troops. Mrs. Arroyo’s cha-cha (charter change) is a national political curse. It will set the stage for more political and economic massacres and allow the criminal and illegitimate administration of GMA to finish an illegally and brutally acquired presidency till 2010. This is unacceptable and unpardonable to the Filipino peasantry,” Ramos asserted.
Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general for internal affairs, said that KMP affiliate organizations in 59 provinces and 15 regions nationwide will stage pockets of peasant resistance and protests that would culminate on or before May 1, 2006.
“January 20 marks the beginning of Mrs. Arroyo’s end. This is not a prophecy but a political assessment of the situation, based on the determination and collective sentiment of the Filipino peasantry,” Marbella said.
KMP said that the 100-percent foreign equity ownership of land, the foreign takeover of media and other vital installations and the watering down of the Bill of Rights provisions of the 19-year old charter are compelling reasons to reject cha-cha and its proponents, led by Mrs. Arroyo, former President Fidel Ramos and House Speaker Jose de Venecia.
“These three patrons of cha-cha are underestimating the Filipino peasants and other progressive forces in the fight against cha-cha and for Ms Arroyo’s ouster,” he added.
Support for the Magdalo Four
The KMP also praised the patriotism of the four escaped Magdalo junior officers who called on the Filipino people to continuously refuse the bogus Arroyo regime. “The high level of patriotism and recognition of the Filipino people’s sovereign will is a political testament and statement that the Magdalo Four will not resort to military adventurism contrary to statements issued by the pro-Arroyo generals in the AFP.”
The four young officers implicated in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny escaped from detention last week and vowed to contribute more to the cause of the Filipino people and the ouster of Arroyo. The escape of Capt. Nathaniel Rabonza, 1st Lieutenants Lawrence San Juan, Sonny Sarmiento and Patricio Bumidang from Fort Bonifacio on Jan. 17 was reportedly facilitated by a clandestine group called Young Officers Union new generation (YOUng).
KMP stressed, “These patriotic military officers are expressing the right political prescription: uphold the principle of civilian supremacy over the military in ousting the bogus regime of Ms Arroyo.”
The militant group said that the relatives of victims and survivors of Mendiola Massacre and other forms of state terrorism shared the same views with the patriotic officers that the Arroyo regime, her loyal supporters in the House of Representatives and among the police and military are the real enemies of the people.
“The Magdalo officers and the YOUng patriots are right. President Arroyo champions the system of illegitimacy, corruption and neglect and perpetuates herself to power at the expense of the majority of the Filipino people,” KMP said. Bulatlat.com