The Kabataan para sa Tribung Pilipino (KATRIBU) recalls the 37th Mendiola Massacre which happened on January 22, 1987, where a peaceful protest of 20,000 farmers became a bloody and violent dispersal with the death of thirteen (13) farmers and injuries of a number of farmers who calls for genuine land reform through a march toward Malacañang.
“Our farmers, the backbone of our economy, suffer through hunger and bullets. The Mendiola Massacre happened in broad daylight to defenseless farmers who asked for an open dialogue with the president about land distribution and decent wages. The government’s refusal to cooperate is meant to shadow their failure–-to remain the status quo of concentrating land for the rich landlords and bureaucrat capitalists”, according to KATRIBU Chairperson Eloisa Mesina.
Until now, none of the perpetrators and criminals of the massacre were held accountable and worse, the killings of the farmers still persists, as it manifests to explicit killings of farmers through armed state forces, and other form through anti-peasant neoliberal policies such as the Rice Tariffication Law that exposed the senseless tariff system of the government, and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that allows free trade system with selected Asian countries. These loosened the protection for local farmers as the government allowed foreign imports to freely sell their agricultural products with much cheaper prices, and these leave the farmers with low salaries or profit as they are forced to drop the prices of their goods and even give them free due to oversupply.
Moreover, according to the data from the International Coalition on Human Rights in early 2023, 24 farmers have been killed since Marcos Jr was elected as the Philippine president. The government always labels anyone who resists their anti-people policies as “communist rebels” to justify their killings.
“Under Marcos Jr., tales of fake military encounters rise to justify the killing of ordinary peasants. Almost two years into his presidency, KARAPATAN records 500 individuals misrepresented as NPA surrenderees, disrupting human rights in the countryside. We remind the AFP of their documented crimes, and them being scot-free is a statement that the AFP is nothing more than armed mercenaries of the ruling class,” Mesina added.