Twenty-two years after the Mendiola Massacre that resulted in the death of 13 farmers, Filipino farmers are still fighting for a genuine agrarian reform program.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Teresita Arjona recalls the bloody incident on January 22, 1987. (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)
Teresita Arjona, 50, is the widow of one of the 13 victims and herself a survivor of the Mendiola Massacre.
On January 22, 1987, government security forces opened fire at some 20,000 protesters who demanded a genuine land reform from the Aquino government. After the volley of shots, Danilo Arjona, Teresita’s husband, and 12 others lay dead. Several others were wounded.
Other victims were Adelfa Aribe, Ronilo Domanico, Dante Evangelio, Bernabe Laquindanum, and Roberto Yumul of southern Luzon; Leopoldo Alonzo, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, and Sonny Boy Perez of Central Luzon; and Vicente Campomanes, Angelito Gutierrez, and Rodrigo Grampan of northern Manila.
That was 22 years ago, and Teresita marked the anniversary of the massacre that killed her husband by joining the rally to call anew for a genuine agrarian reform program.
Members of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and their affiliates the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) marched toward Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge. They were joined by members of organizations under the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). The protesters were blocked by elements of the Manila Police District at the corner of Recto Ave. and Nicanor Reyes St.
Recalling the incident
While the negotiation was going on, Teresita was standing beside KMP leaders. She told Bulatlat, “Kinakabahan na naman ako. Ganito rin noon, nag-nenego pa lang, nandali na sila.” (I am getting nervous. The same thing happened years ago; the negotiation was still going on when they began shooting at us.) She was referring to the elements of Philippine National Police and Philippine Marines.
Farmers and supporters march along Espana St. in Manila, January 22, 2009. (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)
She continued, “Nagmamartsa kami [papuntang Mendiola], may bumagsak na mga bote mula sa isang building. Maya-maya, nagpaputok na.” (We were marching when suddenly a bottle was thrown from one of the buildings. After a while, they started firing.)
Teresita said, “Magkahiwalay kami ng asawa ko. Marshal siya.” (I was not marching with my husband then because he was a marshal during the march.)
She said she managed to go home to Liliw, Laguna that same night. For their safety, they were prevented by their colleagues to go back to the site of the massacre. “Noon ko na nalaman nangyari sa asawa ko. Pinuntahan ko siya, nakaburol na sa Mt. Carmel dito sa Quezon City.” (It was then that I learned about what happened to my husband. When I went back for him, there was already a wake for him and the others at the Mt. Carmel church in Quezon City.)