The bloody Mendiola massacre, which killed 13 and wounded dozens of farmers seeking for land reform, took place 29 years ago on January 22, 1987. It is forever etched in the memory of the Filipino nation as an act of betrayal by the US-Cory Aquino regime, which then promised to be the exact opposite of the Marcos dictatorship, yet proved to be nearly as tyrannical.
Nearly three decades later, justice is still elusive for the victims of the Mendiola massacre, including their families and the millions of peasants across the archipelago whose cry for genuine agrarian reform remain unheeded.
History as the ultimate witness tells us how previous regimes — from Marcos to Aquino III – hold in deep contempt the implementation of genuine agrarian reform in the country, perpetually concocting anti-peasant measures, such as the CARP and its useless extension CARPer, to retard if not kill land reform altogether, safeguarding foremost the land monopoly interests of big landlords, big bourgeois comprador and their US imperialist master.
The CARP, for instance, as the centerpiece program of the Cory Aquino government was clearly a failure. Its ‘land distribution’ was tokenistic at best and instead gave leverage to big landlords to protect large portions of their land monopolies. Presently, CARPer, which is about to end, has even made available and expanded all avenues for big landlords to maintain and expand their land properties, thus a great majority of the peasants all over the country continue to be deprived to own land to till.
The big landlord Cojuangco-Aquino clan is accountable not just for the Mendiola massacre under the Cory Aquino presidency but also for the carnage at their very own Hacienda Luisita in 2003. This alone shows why Aquino III has deliberately denied agrarian reform. Until today, the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, owned by the Aquino-Cojuangco clan, continue to be deprived of the land they deserve.
In Mindanao, the small pieces of land owned by millions of peasants have been grabbed, one way or another, by the huge imperialist agri-plantations, such as Dole, Del Monte and SumiFru. With subhuman wages and work hours, countless have succumbed to the extremely exploitative conditions of being an agri-worker in plantations, haciendas and other big farms.
Genuine agrarian reform under the reactionary government, under a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society that is ruled by big landlords, big bourgeois compradors and their imperialist master will never come into fruition. It is only through the victory of the national-democratic revolution, which has agrarian revolution as its main program, that genuine agrarian reform can be attained.
But even if victory is yet to be achieved, the revolutionary movement is already implementing its minimum program for agrarian reform, such as the reduction of rent of land, farm tools and implements and farm animals. It has launched mass campaigns to augment the wage rates of farm workers, increase productivity and raise the prices of farm products. It has also reduced usury. And maximum land reform are implemented in some areas where the Red political power is relatively strong and when the prevailing situation allow.
And, upon victory, there will be sweeping maximum land reform throughout the country to once and for all free the tillers of the land from the bondage of feudalism and semi-feudalism. Then and only then can justice be truly delivered for the martyrs of the Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita massacres and all other inequities inflicted against the peasantry.#
(sgd) KA ORIS