Commemorating Mendiola Massacre: The bloodstained struggle for land

Twenty-two farmers were marching to the Malacanang to parade their calls for a genuine land reform until it became a bloody dispersal on January 22, 1987, that took 13 lives, thus the Mendiola Massacre. The farmers were expecting a dialogue with President then, Corazon A. Aquino to demand free land distribution amidst the growing monopoly of land which the president herself is an owner of 6,453 hectares of land. Instead of a peaceful dialogue, farmers were answered with sporadic firing from the police with the intent to slaughter everyone in their path. No one was taken accounted for the bloody act since the charges were later dismissed by the 1993 supreme court because as they cited immunity of the government official from any suit.

Similarly, a bloody incident happened in San Agustin, Palo where eight farmers were killed including a pregnant woman during a “tiklos” conducted by the resident farmers who were victims of land grabbing by the despotic Pedro Margallo and its family. Elements from the 87th ID started indiscriminate firing against the land beneficiaries and their supporters and after the smoke was cleared, no one was punished after our current prejudiced justice system has made the same cover-up.

Thirty-one years after, the demand of the farmers remains as it has never been solved. The semi-feudal framework of the country continues where farmers are forced to work as usurp, serving the greater gains of the landlords that represents the ruling elites. The promise of land distribution was shattered as it was presented by the bogus land reform program known as CARP and was later extended through CARPER.

The peasant sector was given false hope when Duterte promised to distribute land to them and even placed Ka Paeng as the Department of Agrarian Reform secretary. Through the implementation of it’s bogus “peace and rehabilitation” program in the name of “Oplan Kapayapaan”, hundreds of farmers are killed by the fascist Armed Forces of the Philippines because of false information and red tagging. Moreover, government troops can easily get away from it since farmers’ factual accounts barely reach the mainstream. In Eastern Visayas alone last year, five farmers were killed while a thousand more were forced to evacuate due to intense militarization in their areas.

Duterte later canceled the continuation of peace talks before the supposed fifth round where the most salient part of the process which is the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) could have been discussed, including the solution to the century-long problem of the farmers which is land ownership. This only shows that Duterte is anti-people and a warmonger that has deceived the people through its trapo (traditional politician) way of handling the elections.

It is now clear that Duterte was never the answer to the malady that was inflicting to the farmers opposed to what he boasted before. Disillusioned and furious, the farmers, together with the greater masses should fight Duterte’s tyrannical rule simply because justice will not be served on a silver platter. The course of events from administration to administration, regime to regime just goes to show that impunity then is impunity now.