Genuine agrarian reform necessary to ‘break bonds of injustice and oppression’
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that President Benigno Aquino III is liable for the continuing denial of justice for the victims of Mendiola Massacre that happened under the administration of his mother, late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. “After 28 years and two Aquino presidencies, justice remains elusive for the victims and martyrs of Mendiola Massacre,” says KMP chair Rafael Mariano. (Click to watch video)
“Every year since 1987, farmers relive the tragedy of Mendiola Massacre as we hold accountable present and previous regimes for the absence of genuine and redistributive land reform in the country,” the KMP leader said.
“The constant denial of justice makes Mendiola Massacre all the more heinous and inhumane. History can’t be undone and farmers will never forget that Mendiola Massacre is a high crime against the Filipino peasantry committed by the State,” added Mariano who, in 1987, was with the contingent of farmers from Central Luzon who marched to Mendiola to demand Cory Aquino to distribute the Cojuangco-family owned Hacienda Luisita and other big landholdings in the country.
Joining today’s protest from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Mendiola are farmers affected by massive state and corporate land grabbing in the following areas — 3,000-hectare Araneta Estate in San Jose Del Monte Bulacan; 2,000-hectare Hacienda Dolores in Porac Pampanga; Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas; 39,000-hectare Yulo King Ranch in Coron, Palawan; 3,100-hectare Fort Magsaysay military reservation in Nueva Ecija; and the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
Also in attendance are farmers from Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bataan who were victimized by the State’s bogus land reform program, the now expired Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), another anti-farmer Aquino scheme.
“The existence of haciendas, big landholdings and massive land grabbing throughout the country are proof of continuing injustice against farmers,” said Mariano.
“To be able to break the bonds of injustice and oppression, genuine agrarian reform is just and necessary. Farmers will tirelessly assert for free land distribution and the dismantling of land monopolies to haciendero President Benigno Aquino III,” Mariano said.
On the day of the massacre, more than 20,000 farmers from Luzon marched to Mendiola Bridge near Malacanang to present their demands to then President Cory Aquino. The protest was the culmination of an 8-day campout at the then Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now DAR) in Quezon City.
Farmers and land reform advocates presented their demands for genuine agrarian reform. Among the demands raised were: 1) distribution of lands for free to farmers; 2) zero-retention of lands by landlords; and 3) discontinuation of amortizations of land payments.
Instead of hearing out the just demands of farmers, state forces opened fire at the protesting farmers, resulting to the deaths of 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. Scores sustained gunshot wounds and injuries. Up until this day, no perpetrator of the Mendiola Massacre was punished and brought to justice.
“We have been waiting in vain for justice to be delivered. Baka makamatayan na rin namin ang paghahanap ng katarungan para sa mga kaanak naming pinaslang ng gobyernong Aquino,” said Tessie Arjona, widow of Danilo Arjona. ###