By ILPS Commission 6
We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle Commission No. 6, in behalf of all our member organizations, stand with the Filipino peasantry in their call for justice on the 29th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. We also express our utmost condemnation to the government of Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III for its inaction, if not cover-up, to the said massacre perpetrated by the government forces under the command of then President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino – his mother.
On January 22, 1987, one of the most brutal and horrendous crimes ever committed in Philippine soil post WWII happened. Thousands of peasants and supporters marching –led by the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) — calling for genuine agrarian reform to the newly installed President Corazon Aquino, were met with a cascade of live bullets by the government forces at the Mendiola Bridge, the doorstep of Manila’s seat of power. The massacre claimed 13 lives and there were 39 who sustained gunshot wounds and 12 sustained other injuries, most of which were peasant leaders and farmers. Martial law had just ended months before and farmers were marching to claim the promise of Aquino and implement a genuinely distributive land reform to no avail.
Despite being dubbed by Philippine and some world historians as the “mother of democracy” as she succeeded the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship, the Mendiola Massacre has revealed the landlord and fascist nature of President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino’s regime – a regime hell-bent on denying land to the farmers through any means. Months after the massacre, the Aquino regime enacted the bogus and anti-peasant land reform program Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARP) – a spit to the face of the victims of the Mendiola Massacre and to the Filipino peasantry.
Sullied and owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan, the large estate of Hacienda Luisita became the first beneficiary of President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino’s bogus land reform program. Instead of returning the 6,453 hectare land estate to the farmers, CARP has facilitated the evasion of Hacienda Luisita from actual physical distribution, using schemes such as Stock Distribution Option to repudiate the farmers’ claims. To date, especially with another Cojuangco-Aquino as president, Hacenda Luisita remains intact and undistributed to the farmers and agricultural workers despite numerous legal documents and a Supreme Court decision for its actual physical distribution.
For almost three decades now, the families of the victims of the massacre, the Filipino peasantry in their thousands and supporters, led by the militant Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), have stormed the Mendiola Bridge, the historical gate of the Malacanang Palace, year after year calling for justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre – a bold attestation and defiance to the continuing injustice and impunity of the Philippine government to the Filipino peasantry.
29 years later, justice remains elusive to the family of victims despite claims of the Corazon Aquino regime and subsequent presidents to indict those responsible and own up to the accountability of the government forces. The current president Benigno Aquino III, another US-backed landlord, have turned a blind eye not only to the calls for justice for the victims of the massacre, but more so to the victims of the bogus land reform CARP – which aggravated the poverty and landlessness of the Filipino peasantry.
Landlessness and chronic hunger in the countryside have outlived the bogus land reform program CARP of the first Aquino regime. The present landlord Aquino regime have not only continued duping the peasantry in empty promises of land reform, it has catalysed and intensified land grabbing in the countryside. Vast tracts of agricultural lands owned or held by small farmers are being auctioned and converted in their thousands by the government for the profit of its closest allies; while deploying the most brutal of military campaigns to the struggling peasant and indigenous communities, in an onslaught of harassment, strafing, and extra-judicial killings and massacres.
We therefore continue to stand with the families, relatives and friends of Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Danilo Arjona, Dionisio Bautista, Vicente Campomanes, Roberto Caylao, Ronilo Domunico, Dante Evangelio, Rodrigo Grampa, Angelito Gutierrez, Bernabe Lakindanum, Sonny Boy Perez, and Roberto Yumul – victims to the atrocious Mendiola Massacre; and to the Filipino peasantry in their struggle for land, justice, and freedom.
Despite being targeted by the Aquino regime and being subjected to two of the most brutal massacres in Philippine history, the militant Filipino peasantry, under the banner of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines, had been continuing in their struggle for genuine agrarian reform and national freedom and democracy. The gallant strides and achievements of the KMP and the Filipino peasantry continue to inspire not only the peasant movements in the global South but the ever-growing peoples’ movement around the world.
From imposing conditionalities, setting up puppet regimes such as Aquino, funding foreign occupation, to outright annexation, imperialism has fostered state terrorism in different countries to protect its interest and hamper the advance of the most courageous of peoples’ movements. It is therefore an imperative task that we expose and oppose all forms of state terrorism and oppression and brave the tempest for a socially just world!
Justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre!
Fight for land, justice, national freedom, and democracy!
Working peoples of the world, unite!
Down with imperialism and feudalism!