More than one thousand farmers and their supporters marked the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre today.
Twenty two years ago on January 22, 1987 at the historic Mendiola bridge, combined elements of the police and military opened fire at a rally of farmers demanding for genuine land reform. Thirteen farmers were killed and hundreds were wounded.
Members of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and their affiliates the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) marched toward Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge. They were joined by members of organizations under the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). The protesters were blocked by elements of the Manila Police District at the corner of Recto Ave. and Nicanor Reyes St.
The protesters called for justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre and re-echoed their demand for a genuine agrarian reform program.
Anakpawis Representative and KMP National Chairperson Rafael Mariano said, “Twenty-two years may have passed, but the spirit, lessons and principles being fought for by the peasantry and the people at Mendiola Bridge are still very much alive. The political and social bases remain thus, there is a need to further advance the peasantry’s struggle to a higher level.”
Mariano was among the survivors of the massacre. He was then 30 years old.
The peasant leader-lawmaker said that under the Arroyo government, “there are no more remaining pretensions of a token land reform.”
Speaking at the rally, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said the Arroyo government is bastardizing the justice system. He criticized the “legal offensives” against leaders and members of progressive organizations and the killings and abduction of activists.
Mariano rejected the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), saying it only paved the way for the re-concentration of land to landlords. He called for an immediate deliberation on House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).
HB 3059 seeks to dismantle land monopoly through free distribution of land to landless tillers.
The protesters also called for the immediate ouster of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.(Bulatlat.com)