“Today, as we remember the 30th year of the bloody Mendiola Massacre, we march with the majority of the Filipino people – the farmers – in demanding justice and land to the tillers. With hearts full on indignation and determination, we insist the need for accountability and assert the necessity for genuine agrarian reform”.
This is the statement of League of Filipino Students (LFS) National Spokesperson JP Rosos as they join the people’s march to Mendiola Peace Arch in commemoration of the Mendiola Massacre of 1987.
Rosos recalled that exactly three decades ago, 13 farmers were killed, 39 were severely injured, and hundreds suffered from the bloody dispersal. Worse, according to Rosos, not one was held accountable for the sanguinary attack.
“Whatever happened to justice? It has been three decades but not a single effort to make the culprits and masterminds of the ferocious attack was made accountable. Worse, from Cory Aquino to Noynoy Aquino, the land situation in the countryside that prompted the Mendiola Protest in 1987 has exacerbated,” said Rosos.
“In memory of the 13 that has been killed: Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Frampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez, and Roberto Yumul; we demand accountability from all the previous regimes as they share the same guilt of impunity and making the situation of the farmers worse,” Rosos added.
Struggle for genuine agrarian reform
Rosos pointed out that while the challenge to exact accountability remains to be a true test for the Duterte regime, the biggest test will be the resolution of the worsening land problem in the countryside. The youth leader stressed the need to implement genuine agrarian reform as part of attaining justice for the farmers.
Roses added that resolving the land issue is a challenge to Duterte that he is different from his predecessors. Rosos argued that Duterte needs to listen to the demands for land reform that has been the battle cry of the farmers and the people even before the 1987 massacre.
“At the heart of our call for justice is our demand for the Duterte regime to heed the longstanding call for genuine agrarian reform. The present administration should start by stopping foreign corporations and local landlords from grabbing the land of the farmers,” said Rosos.
Rosos motioned that the lands owned by foreign corporations and big local landlords should be confiscated and distributed to the farmers to significantly resolve the widespread poverty and hunger that stems from extreme landlessness. The youth leader pointed out that the distribution of lands to farmers will also considerably alleviate the country’s economic conditions since it will address the concern of the majority of the people.
“The feudal relations that squeeze profit from the farmers and the imperialist plunder of lands by foreign corporations must end. Such set-up is a distinguished injustice that remains rampant across the country,” said Rosos.
Rosos added that Duterte should order the immediate pull out of military and paramilitary troops in the countryside that forces farmers and indigenous people to evacuate and leave their lands.
“We challenge Duterte to immediate address these concerns. Three decades of inaction is injustice incarnate. As students, we raise our fists to the calls for justice and land. We pledge to mobilize thousands upon thousands for this cause,” Rosos ended. ###