Thirty years ago today, thousands of peasants and their supporters marching towards Malacanang Palace to demand genuine land reform were violently dispersed with gunfire. 13 peasants were killed, hundreds were injured. This dastardly crime of the Aquino regime has been registered in the collective memory of our people as the infamous Mendiola Massacre.
In protest against this crime of the Aquino regime, the NDFP Negotiating Panel withdrew from the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations that were going on at that time in Manila.
Thirty years later, there is still no justice for the martyrs of the massacre. Thirty years later, there is still no genuine land reform. If thirty years ago there is the Mendiola massacre, today, we cite the violent attacks against agrarian reform beneficiaries in Lapanday Food Corp. in Bgy. San Isidro, Tagum City, the continuing problem in Hacienda Luisita and other cases as clear proofs that there is still no resolution of the age-old land problem, there is still no genuine land reform.
Then President Corazon Aquino promised to subject the Cojuanco-owned Hacienda Luisita to land reform, land reform being the centerpiece program of her government. Ironically, Hacienda Luisita has become a centerpiece example of the broken promises of traditional politicians and previous GRP regimes.
In the coming days, the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels will tackle the all-important drafts on the Comprehensive Agreements on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) in which land reform is one of the core topics.
The NDFP RWC-CASER has been ready a long time ago with its draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). The NDFP panel is ready to accelerate the process of approving such agreement in order to solve the age-old problem once and for all.
Fidel V. Agcaoili
NDFP Negotiating Panel