Mendiola Massacre... 34 years later

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3 years ago

On this day (January 22), the year was 1987. Mendiola, City of Manila, Philippines. As thousands of farmers marched forward to Malacañang as they demand agrarian reforms as promised by the new administration, and security forces dispersed the farmers that would turn out from a peaceful protest to a tragic massacre.

What happened?

The People Power Revolution of 1986

1986, after the events of the People Power Revolution, Marcos was ousted & exiled in Honolulu, Hawaii. Corazon Aquino became the 11th President of the Philippines as she made changes, including reforms from the government's system, to agrarian problems of the Philippines at that time. Since the administration was new & fresh at that time, the farmers pushed to the new government amendments in the agrarian law, however, they were told to wait for the finalization of the new constitution and the new congress, but it made the farmers suspicious. Aquino's Executive Order failed to address the root of agrarian problems of the country, the farmers were disappointed and causing them to protest against the administration.

January 15, 1987. The Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (Farmworkers Movement of the Philippines), a militant farmers' group led by Jaime Tadeo as they set-up camp at the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now the Department of Agrarian Reform) in Diliman, Quezon City. 5 days later (January 20, 1987) They presented their problems and demands to Minister Heherson Alvarez by giving the land for free to the farmers, end the retention of lands by the landlords, and stop the amortization of land payments. Alvarez will relay these demands as promised at their scheduled Cabinet meeting on January 21. A day after, farmers barricaded the entire building to prevent the employees from entering the premises.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and other leftist-groups gather at Liwasang Bonifacio for a brief presentation.

The next day (January 22, 1987). The group decided to march forward to Malacañang hoping they would talk with the president. Marching from Quezon Memorial Circle, other militant groups joined along the march: the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May One Movement), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), League of Filipino Students, and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (Unity Congress of the Urban Poor). The marchers reached Liwasang Bonifacio (Bonifacio Square) at 1:00 pm as officers were alarmed on the protest riot police, and other units were deployed around the palace under the command of Gen. Ramon Montaño, Col. Cesar Nazareno, and Brig. Gen. Alredo Lim.

Their numbers reached from 10,000 to 15,000 when they reached Recto Avenue. The first line clashed between the farmers and officers of the Western Police District, the 2nd line behind the officers consist of other police units, followed by the 3rd line of the Marine Civil Disturbance Control Battalion of the Philippine Marine Corps. Behind the battalion are army trucks, water cannons, fire trucks, and mobile dispersal teams equipped with tear gas. When the lines were breached by the farmers, peasants, and students, there were gunshots and the marchers retreated to Claro M. Recto Avenue, while armed forces continued to open fire against the protesters.

The Victims? 13 farmers dead, 39 were wounded, and 20 were injured.

The Aftermath?

The National Democratic Front withdraws from peace talks after the incident, ending hopes for reconciliation for agrarian reforms.

A day after the incident, Pres. Corazon Aquino created a commission called the Citizens' Mendiola Commission to investigate the massacre headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Pedro Abad Santos ensuring that justice will be given to the victims. Two videotapes were submitted as they were firing unarmed civilians as they fall back. Aquino filed administrative charges against armed personnel either both on photos or videos firing their weapons at the protesters on February 27, 1987. On May 31, 1988, the Manila Regional Trial Court dismisses the case.

34 years later, no one has been punished for the massacre and the victim's families have not received any compensation.

Sources:

Lead Image from http://laonlaan.blogspot.com/2012/01/mendiola-massacre-survivor-recounts.html

https://www.rappler.com/moveph/mendiola-massacre-anniversary

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/01/22/1986919/why-farmers-are-protesting-mendiola-massacre-over-three-decades-later

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/01/21/769389/timeline-mendiola-massacre-33-years-and-counting

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