Saturday, January 21, 2017

WATCH: Mendiola Massacre and things you should know

How it happened

Led by Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) and its national president, Jaime Tadeo, the farmers began their encampment at what was then the Ministry of Agrarian Reform on January 15, 1987.

On January 20, then agrarian reform minister Heherson Alvarez met with Tadeo and promised to raise their problems and demands to the President at their scheduled Cabinet meeting on January 21.

On January 21, tension mounted as protesters barricaded the DAR premises, preventing employees from entering the building.

On January 22, the group decided to bring their demands to Malacañang, where they hoped to have a dialogue with Aquino. This was captured in the newsreel produced by Asia Visions, an alternative audio-visual institution during the 1980s, and uploaded by PinoyWeekly.

The video shows scenes from the mobilization as the group marched from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola.

At around 4:30 pm, the protesters headed to the police line and began pushing against the barricade. The marchers and the anti-riot squad did not have any dialogue. It was during this time when violence erupted.


Following the massacre, Aquino created the Citizens’ Mendiola Commission to facilitate the filing of criminal charges against all those responsible for the violent dispersal. The House Committee on Human Rights also recommended compensation for the victims.

No one was punished for the death of the farmers. Survivors and relatives of the victims did not receive any compensation.

A year after the incident, the Manila Regional Trial Court dismissed the class suit filed by the families of the victims and survivors against the government, and police and military officials. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling in March 1993, citing the government's immunity from suit.

Among the respondents and the positions they held at the time of the incident where then defense secretary Fidel Ramos, former Western Police District superintendent Alfredo Lim, then Armed Forces chief General Renato de Villa, former Philippine Marines chief Rodolfo Biazon, and Brigadier General Brigido Paredes, former Marines commandant.

Fight for land reform and decent wages

The farmers and peasant workers launched the 8-day mobilization to call for equal agrarian justice and decent wages – appeals that were seen as especially meaningful at that juncture. Those who were failed by the promises of ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos thought they finally had the opportunity to air their grievances.

During the mobilization, the farmers' group presented their proposal for genuine agrarian reform:

    Give land for free to farmers
    Zero retention of lands by landlords
    Stop amortization

Up to the present, the fight of the farmers for genuine land reform continues. Farmers are still pushing for the immediate passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 which seeks the distribution of land to farmers for free.

Current DAR chief is a Mendiola Massacre survivor

Will the fight for genuine agrarian reform succeed under the Duterte administration? For farmers familiar with the decades-long struggle, there is enough reason to hope.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” V. Mariano is one of the many farmers who were at the Mendiola protest 30 years ago. A Mendiola Massacre survivor himself, Mariano has pledged to uphold the struggle for genuine agrarian reform.

Before entering public office, Mariano served as KMP secretary-general of the organization when it was founded in 1985. He served as KMP president in 1993, just a few years after the Mendiola Massacre.




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