Seventeen days before the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the infamous Mendiola Massacre, the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to re-open the 24-year old case that killed 13 farmers and injured 100 others during the bloody dispersal of a farmer’s rally demanding free land distribution from the administration of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.
In a press statement, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the Mendiola Massacre which took place on January 22, 1987 at the bridge of Chino Roces is not about a past being revisited or a chapter of a dark history being recalled on commemorative basis, but a living and continuing search of peasants for land and justice.
“We challenge the 50-year old President to re-open the Mendiola Massacre case and pursue a full-blown and independent probe. The murderers are still out there and worse, nobody from past administrations and even under Mr. Aquino’s administration dares to revive the investigation which is being demanded since 1987,” the KMP leader said.
From January 15-21, 1987, the KMP led militant farmers from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon provinces staged a camp-out outside the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR) office then headed by agrarian reform minister Heherson Alvarez. The farmers were demanding the immediate free distribution of lands under the Aquino administration.
On January 22, about 10,000 to 15,000 farmers marched from the agrarian reform office in Quezon City to Mendiola to ask Mrs. Aquino to make true of her promise to implement genuine land reform. But farmers were violently dispersed by military and police forces when the protesters reached Mendiola. During the dispersal, 13 farmers were killed, 39 marchers sustained gunshot wounds and 20 other farmers suffered minor injuries.
The killing of 13 farmers caused the peace panel of the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to withdraw from peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
KMP said if President Aquino wants to correct the grave mistake of Mendiola massacre he would call for the re-investigation of the case and file criminal and other appropriate charges against those responsible for the brutal murder of 13 farmers. The farmer group also said another corrective measure is for the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to surrender their immoral and illegal claim on the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita to the 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries, which KMP said are the collective owners of the sugar estate in Tarlac City.
The KMP said farmers all over the country will mark the 24th anniversary of Mendiola massacre with protests. The group said aside from genuine land reform and demand of justice for victims of Mendiola massacre and state repression, farmers will also call for the scrapping of extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with reforms (CARPer) law and the passage of progressive Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 374.
The KMP also said the nationally coordinated mass action on January 22 will call for the junking of Oplan Bayanihan, a new counter-insurgency program which the group said was designed and authored by the US state military department under the US Counter-Insurgency Guide of 2009, which the peasant group said is bound to surpass the extreme brutality of Oplan Bantay Laya implemented for nine years under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. #