22 years after the bloody carnage:
“All we want is piece of land”,
say relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims
January 22, 2009
22 years after the bloody carnage:
“All we want is piece of land”, say relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims
Quezon City, Philippines- “All we want is a piece of land that we can till and call our own. But what we got from them the state was bullets.”
Twenty two years after the bloody carnage, relatives of the infamous Mendiola Massacre said they want to move on and continue with what their husbands and relatives pursued two decades ago, but the horrible event kept on visiting them like day-to-day nightmares.
After their 7-day camped out at the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR), from January 15-21, 1987 on January 22, leaders and members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), numbering about 15,000 decided to march from the agrarian reform office to Liwasang Bonifacio and then to Mendiola.
In Mendiola, military and police elements open fired and peppered the farmers and their sympathizers with bullets. Thirteen marchers, mostly farmers from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions were killed and identified as 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.
Aside from the 13 farmers who were killed by state security forces, reports also said 39 marchers sustained gunshot wounds and 32 sustained minor injuries. “Let me set the record straight. What we want is a parcel of land but what the government gave to us were scores of bullets and in the aftermath of the massacre is a bankrupt, bogus, anti-farmer and pro-landlord agrarian reform program,” the Kilusang Enero 22 or KE 22 said in a press statement.
KE 22, an assembly of relatives of Mendiola Massacre added that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) passed by Congress during the time of former President Corazon Aquino was a comprehensive failure and merely sustained the 22-year old wounds caused by the Mendiola Massacre.
“How can you have justice with CARP? It is not a social justice program but an instrument for further landgrabbing, further denial of peasant land rights and class exploitation by the landlord few. CARP is part of the long-running injustice committed to the victims of Mendiola Massacre,” KE 22 said. .
Relatives want GARB
KE 22 said it is actively supporting the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.
“We hope the leadership of House Speaker Prospero Nograles will move on and act with dispatch and resolution in favor of HB 3059. This social justice measure is necessary for the cause of land and justice across-the-country,” relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims added.
GARB which is still pending before the House Committee on Agrarian Reform will cover all agricultural lands and have these lands distributed for free to all landless, land lacking and willing to till farmers all over the country, according to KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella, a survivor of Mendiola Massacre.
KMP’s Marbella said lands operated by transnational corporations, including commercial farms ran by big agribusiness groups shall be nationalized in favor of farmworkers and agricultural workers who would be trained to manage and operate these large plantations and commercial agri-business farms.
In the case of sullied lands, or lands acquired through fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force and violence, these would be subjected to confiscation, while landlords who acquired their landholdings without any shades of blood debts or crimes against their tenants will receive just compensation and shall be paid by the state based on the average tax assessment on the land for the immediate last three years preceding the effectivity of the act.
The KMP leader said farmer beneficiaries are guaranteed with security of tenure and sustained support systems to make the awarded lands more productive and more responsive to the needs of the farmers and the Filipino public in general.
Meanwhile in Hacienda Luisita, farmworkers continue to cultivate more than 1,800 hectares of the hotly disputed sugar estate outside the framework of the 20-year old CARP.
“The key to this success story is the determination of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers to challenge and fight the Stock Distribution Option scheme legitimized by the bogus CARP. Now, the farmworkers and poor farmers of Hacienda Luisita are reaping the fruits of their labor,” the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said in a press statement.
UMA public information officer Rey Calaguing said the hacienda farmworkers and poor farmers are planting various crops in more than 1,800 hectares like rice and vegetables. “We are encouraging more farmers to join and form themselves into cooperation units to be able to cover other hectares for their livelihood. This is peasant class power in full swing,” he said.
UMA said the current “bungkalan” campaign has already benefited 838 families or roughly 1,676 individuals spread in the barangays of Malapacsiao (244.5 hectares), Asturias (209.93 hectares), Bantog (258 hectares), Cut-Cut (275.9 hectares), Balite (153.4 hectares), Mutrico (248 hectares), Pando (163 hectares), Texas (140 hectares), Pasajes (60 hectares) and Parang (51.5 hectares).
Camp-out in HOR, march to Mendiola
The KMP together with the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, UMA, Amihan peasant federation and farmer groups Kalipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) will stage a three-day camp-out at the House of Representatives beginning on Monday.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said about 1,000 farmers will participate in the camp-out from Jan.19-21 in Batasan Complex. He said farmers and fisherfolk will conduct mass lobbying with congressmen starting Monday and update lawmakers on the current situation of farmers and explain to lawmakers the necessity of passing HB 3059.
“We will seek an audience with House Speaker Prospero Nograles. That is one of the objectives of the three-day peasant camp-out in Batasan. We will not entertain any kind of political snub, that’s for sure,” warned Hicap.
On Jan.22 farmers will march from DAR to Mendiola to officially end the four-day peasant march for land and justice. The Pamalakaya leader said the march to Mendiola will be joined by militant groups under the umbrella alliance of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Hicap said some 1,500 placards bearing the face of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be slashed and burned in Mendiola to show the peasant’s collective outrage against the brutal and anti-rural regime of President Arroyo and the farmers’ resolve to fight for genuine land reform.#
WILFREDO MARBELLA, KMP Deputy Secretary-General
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (+63-905-421-73-05)
For Immediate Release
January 22, 2008
Vice Chairperson/Media Officer, 09095189340
On the 22nd anniversary of Mendiola Massacre
No justice, No peace for the Filipino peasants, people
“No justice! No peace!” is the message of militant youth led by ANAKBAYAN as they joined the Peasant March to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre, where unarmed peasants demonstrating for land reform were gunned down by state security forces.
“The demands of the 13 peasants murdered in 1987 remain the same. Unless social justice is attained thru genuine land reform, the victims of the Mendiola Massacre will not find any peace,” according to ANAKBAYAN National Chairperson Ken Ramos.
Ramos lambasted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, or CARP, as a ‘cure worse than the disease’. “The amount of land monopolized by landlord families has increased, rather than decreased throughout the two decades of CARP implementation. It contains pro-landlord loopholes, such as retention limits, non-distributive options and land conversions that are being exploited by landlords up to this very day,” Ramos said.
Ramos also condemned ‘pseudo-progressive groups’ that are forcing CARP on the people. “Years of implementation have proven that CARP is already defective, so why are they insisting on its extension? It is simply because CARP funds and foreign financial aid for land reform have been their cash cow for a long time. These groups, together with big landlords and compradors, are the ones who benefited from the fake agrarian reform policy, not the peasants,” Ramos added.
“From Aquino to Arroyo, the demand for land by the peasants has been met with brute force. Thus, there is ‘no peace, no justice’ in the countryside.”
“Because of their unwavering resolve to expose the faulty CARP and push genuine agrarian reform, peasants have been victims of state fascism,” Ramos said.
Ramos pointed out that the peasant sector bore the largest number of casualties committed by AFP death squads under Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya 1 & 2. He further berated the upcoming Balikatan exercises to be held in the Bicol Region this April as another measure to monitor and repress the peasant movement in the region.
“Giving farmers the piece of land they deserve is a starting point to achieve peace in the countryside,” Ramos said. “Genuine land reform is a start to ending the semi-feudal roots of poverty in the Philippines.” ###
Jan 22, 2009
End slavery: Obama promise remains an elusive dream for Filipino peasants
Exactly twenty two years after the bloody massacre of 13 peasant activists in Mendiola, the calls which were met with bullets by the Aquino administration has become even louder as the issue of landlessness worsen under the Arroyo regime.
Anakpawis members from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Metro Manila converged once more in Mendiola to reiterate their call for justice to the victims of Mendiola Massacre and that the demands of peasant for genuine agrarian reform should be met.
According to Anakpawis Spokesperson Joel Maglunsod, “As we witness the coverage and attention that the inauguration of US Pres. Barack Obama, we can’t help but compare their celebration to the centuries-old struggle of the Filipino people against slavery. The peasants, who have long struggled to own the land they till since the Spanish colonial rule, are still at the mercy of mighty landlords. What’s worse is that peasants are being massacred all over the country and justice was never served.”
In 1987, the same year as the Mendiola massacre, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was implemented in response to the demands of farmers at the time. But, according to Maglunsod, the law was not meant to really address the root cause of landlessness which is land monopoly but rather to strengthen the control of big landlords over bigger parcels of land. After all, according to him, instead of distributing land, the implementors of CARP have now expanded the reach of their haciendas.
“It is high time for the enactment of a genuine agrarian reform law not the extension of the pro-landlord CARP.” Maglunsod said that the government cannot deny that peasants remain landless despite having spent P20billion of taxpayers’ money. “The need for justice in the form of equitable distribution of land remains,” he added..
This is the reason why the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, the poorest yet most revered congressman of our time, filed House Bill 3059 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) in November 2007. This, Maglunsod explained, is a law drafted by the collective struggle of the peasantry against slavery and destitution brought about by landlessness.
Anakpawis however believes that the task of explaining genuine agrarian reform will be extremely difficult noting our kind of government and society. Their representative, Cong. Rafael Mariano, who himself is a landless peasant will have to get the signatures of the landlord-dominated congress. This is why they vow to continue fighting for the peasants’ right to own the land they till in the parliament of the streets and wherever necessary. “Freedom from slavery is never free but is earned through the collective struggle of a people who really wants it,” ended Maglunsod. # #
Peasants shake the lower house, call for the passage of GARB
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and the peasants from Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) coming from Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and Quezon, held ground at the gates of the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City. They are joined by Pamalaya-Pilipinas (fisherfolk), Amihan (peasant women), UMA (agri-workers) and support groups. Their mobilization at the lower house is part of their 4-day campaign to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre that took place during the Aquino regime on January 22, 1987.
“At Mendiola Massacre, 13 peasants were killed when police and military forces opened fire at my fellow peasant demonstrators who were calling for genuine land reform then. Until now, no justice whatsoever were given to them and their families, thus, we are fighting tirelessly for genuine land reform as our commitment and vow to their martyrdom. At the Hose of Representatives, we are fighting for the passage of House Bill 3059 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB),” opened Antonio Flores, KMP National Auditor and KMP – Southern Mindanao Region Chair.
“We are going to shake this lawmaking institution, 200 peasants from Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and Quezon are going to lobby their district lawmakers to enact GARB on Wednesday. We are also visiting Speaker Nograles’ office to discuss why we want GARB to be passed. We believe this is a first at HOR, hundreds of lobbyist at the same time calling for the passage of a same bill,” added Flores.
Moreover, agri-workers from Hacienda Luisita joined the street forum at the gate and discussed regarding their victories and why GARB would be helfpul to their plight. Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano also talked about the role of GARB to the overall struggle for genuine land reform.
“We are vigilant about what’s happening inside the house, we are to block any efforts of landlord lawmakers to revive the dead CARP and invent legislative moves protecting their domination over the country’s vast agricultural lands,” noted Flores.
“As peasants from other provinces arrive, we are to hold an in-depth and point-per-point discussion about GARB. We are going to do a “Read Along GARB,” with audiences from the countrysides and other groups and sectors,” Flores added.
KMP, Kasama-TK, Pamalakaya, Amihan, UMA, Anakpawis leaders and members are to stay at the gates of the lower house until January 21 before they proceed to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The next day they would march from DAR towards Mendiola to call for genuine land reform, justice for the Mendiola Massacre victims and the passage of GARB.#
ANTONIO FLORES, KMP National Auditor / KMP – Southern Mindanao Region Chair
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (+63-905-421-73-05)
January 20, 2009
ANTONIO FLORES, KMP National Auditor / KMP – Southern Mindanao Region Chair
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421- 7305)
Farmers gave college students a lecture on new agrarian reform bill
Some 82 college students from different state colleges and universities on Monday night got a crash course on GARB (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill) 101, according to one of the leaders of the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
Those who finished the crash course on GARB 101 were freshmen, sophomore and graduating students who trooped to House of the Representatives in Batasan Complex, and were joined by members of militant youth groups Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Student Christian Movement (SCM), the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and National Union of Students of the Philippines .
KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores and activist poet and former political detainee Axel Pinpin of Tagaytay 5 served as instructors to students from University of the Philippines- Diliman campus (UP-Diliman) , Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and University of the East-Recto, who spent over one-hour listening to the inputs of resource persons and took down notes on the lecture about GARB.
“The GARB read along project promotes the reading and discussion of GARB otherwise known as House Bill 3059 to inform the Filipino peasantry and the general public that GARB is a social justice piece of legislation, ” the KMP leader said.
Flores read that the heart and soul of GARB or HB 3059 is free land distribution to all landless, land-lacking and willing-to-till farmers all over the country. He said just compensation will be given to landowners, except those involving sullied landholdings, or land holdings acquired to fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force or violence, and landholdings whose landowners employ oppressive and exploitative practices on their tenants, agricultural workers or other farmers tilling the land.
The KMP leader said men and women who are willing to till land and make it productive for the common good of the Filipino people are entitled to become beneficiaries under an agrarian reform program created under GARB or HB 3059.
One of the students asked: “Are gays and lesbians will become beneficiaries too under GARB?” Flores said gays and lesbians are also beneficiaries of a land reform program under GARB provided they will till and make the land awarded to them productive for the benefit of the Filipino people.
Flores added that enlightened landlords will be allowed to maintain five hectares under GARB provided that they will till the land and will not employ and exploit landless farmers or agricultural workers.
For his part, poet Pinpin of Tagaytay 5 said the students could further appreciate GARB by integrating themselves with and learning from farmers. He said the best way to understand HB 3059 is to understand the farmers’ plight, aspiration and struggle for land, food and justice.
“This crash course and read along activity on GARB would help although to many of you this remains an abstract. To fully understand GARB, we encourage you to live with the farmers and learn from the farmers,” Pinpin added.
Pinpin, a graduate of agriculture in UP-Los Baños briefly recalled how his integration with the farmers had help him understand the peasants struggle for land and the need to change society, and how the students integration with farmers would help them not only to understand GARB or HB 3059 but to accept the social reality that century old feudal bondage and long-running problem of landlessness in the country remains a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed and resolved.
GARB, which is backed by KMP, Kasama-TK and staunch allies like Pamalakaya fishers group, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant federation was authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran, and co-authored by Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan. #
At the KMP Website, GARB 101 Farmers gave college students a lecture on new agrarian reform bill .
(Photos Courtesy of Arkibong Bayan)