Farmers press for justice 32 years after Mendiola Massacre

On the 32nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre where 12 peasants were killed and at least 51 were injured, farmers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas held a protest action at the site of the incident to press for justice.

Noting that the victims still have to receive justice, the protesters also noted that landlessness among poor peasants is still one of the country’s worst form of social injustice.

Farmer-leaders urged their members to continue demanding for justice. (Video by Jomaline Mamangun)

Putragis Amang!

Putragis amang! Kami’y namamalimos lamang ng kapirasong lupa
Bakit pinaputok ang kanilang sandata?
Hayup nga ba kaming, hayup sa turing 
Bakit kaming gutom, bala ang pinakain!

Putragis amang! ang palasyo pala ay hindi dulugan ng awa 
Ang kongreso pala’y kongreso ng panginoong may lupa
Saan namin hahanapin 
Ang pangakong pag-laya?

Putragis amang! huwag nila kaming itulak sa dingding 
Mabangis sumalakay ang mga ginutom
Sa tagisan ng bagang kapag wala nang madurog na kanin
Huhulagpos ang malaong galit na kimkim!

Sumpain ang US!
Si Cory, si Starke, at mga katulad nila
Silang nagbibigay ng laya na busabusin ang paggawa 
Silang nagpapahintulot sa mga panginoong may lupa!

O hari ng gatilyo, hukbo ng mga hukbo
Bayani ng mga bukirin
Idulot mong sa mga kamay namin
Madurog ang mga salarin!

  • This poem had been repeatedly performed at rallies commemorating the Mendiola Massacre of 22 January 1987 when 12 peasants were killed and at least 51 others were injured. According to Mendiola Massacre survivor Mirriam Aledia, who recalled the poem from memory, the poem was performed by an old man during an indignation rally at Mendiola a few days after the massacre took place. The name of the author remains unknown.
  • The featured image is a cartoon by Mark Suva on the occasion of the massacre’s 32nd anniversary today. The background photo he used was taken from All rights to the original photographer.

Justice, land reform still elusive 30 years after Mendiola massacre

ON January 22, 1987, farmers led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) marched to Mendiola to demand genuine agrarian reform from the newly-installed Corazon Aquino administration.

There, they were met by a multitude of police and military. While the farmers held a peaceful program, state forces proceeded to shoot at the protesters, leaving thirteen dead and at least fifty injured.

The massacre also led to the breakdown of the peace talks between the Aquino government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“Agricultural workers were only calling for genuine agrarian reform, but the landlords and hacienderos responded with violence,” said Danilo Ramos, secretary-general of Unyon ng Manggagawang Agrikultura (UMA). “Until now, there is no justice for the victims of the massacre.”

Ramos drew parallels between the 1987 Mendiola massacre and today’s farmers who still experience state violence as they continue to demand for their rights. “The situation has not changed greatly. The demand for genuine agrarian reform remains relevant to this day,” Ramos said.

The Mendiola massacre was investigated in succeeding years, but the government findings were inconclusive. Tessie Arjona, widow of a Mendiola massacre victim, now calls on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to reopen the case made against the perpetrators.

“We were only calling for land. Why did they have to use violence against us?” Arjona asked.”Pres. Duterte must put on trial the military and police officers who killed my husband and bring about justice, even after all these years,” she said.

 Little victories

Farmers from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and other nearby areas held a protest Friday in Mendiola to commemorate the 30thanniversary of the massacre.

Rafael Mariano, secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform and who was part of the Mendiola protest in 1987, assured the demonstrators that his agency would continue to assist farmers in their struggle for genuine land reform, in the face of abusive landlords and officials.

Since his appointment in 2016, Mariano has opened the national office of DAR to farmers, convened the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) for the first time in 10 years, and distributed hundreds of hectares of land to peasants. The issue of genuine land reform is also a major agenda in the ongoing peace talks between the Duterte administration and the NDFP.

These are little victories, Mariano said, but reminded that farmers need to continue their vigilance and action in their struggle for real land reform. “The best thing that peasants should still rely on is still their continued organized struggle for genuine agrarian reform,” Mariano said. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)

Peasants commemorate 30th anniversary of Mendiola Massacre

The Peasant Movement of the Philippines led the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Mendiola Massacre with a rally at the site of the bloody incident.

Families of the seven killed on January 22, 1987 called on President Rodrigo Duterte to reopen the investigation to give justice to the victims.