22 Years After Mendiola Massacre: Farmers Still Fighting for Genuine Agrarian Reform

The couple has five children.

To be able to feed her children, Teresita has continued tilling the farm they still do not own.

She said that their family has been working in the farm since 1980. The harvest is divided according to “tersya” or one-third for the farmers and two-third to the landowner. The same arrangement persists to this day.

Nangangatulong din ako,” said Teresita. (I also do domestic work.)

Justice elusive

Farmers and supporters march toward the direction of Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge. (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

Asked what prompted her to join the rally, Teresita said, “Hanggang ngayon, wala pa ring hustisya para sa asawa ko at sa 12 pang biktima.” (Up to now, there is still no justice for her husband and the 12 other vicims.)

No one has been held responsible for the carnage.

Teresita said, “Bulok pa rin ang gobyerno. Palala nang palala ang sitwasyon.” (The government is still rotten. The situation is getting worse.)

Same demand

She continued,“Hindi pa rin naibibigay ang tunay na reporma sa lupa. Iyon din lang naman ang hinihingi namin noon.” (Up to now, there is still no genuine land reform. That was also what we were demanding for then.)

Anakpawis Representative and KMP Chairperson Rafael Mariano, another survivor of the Mendiola massacre, was 30 years old at that time. He said, “Twenty-two years may have gone, but the spirit, lessons and principles being fought for by the peasantry and the people at Mendiola Bridge are very much alive.” “The political and social bases remain thus, the need to further advance the peasantry’s struggle to a higher level.”

Mariano said the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) failed to dismantle land monopoly.

Members of Manila Police block the protesters. (Photo by Angie de Lara)

The Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA-Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform) said in its study titled Agrarian Trends, “The provision requiring farmers to pay landowners ‘just’ compensation for the land has been one of the primary factors that led to the failure of CARP.”

The same study by SENTRA cited a report by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) dated September 2007 that reveals that 5, 049 EPs [emancipation patents] and 103, 092 CLOAs [certificate of land ownership awards] were canceled. This involves 204, 579 hectares of land.

The non-government organization also claimed that the DAR’s accomplishment report was even ‘distorted, bloated and highly questionable.’

Speaking at the rally, Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of Kasama-TK revealed that in Southern Tagalog, at least 172, 967 hectares of agricultural land has been converted for other purposes due to the loopholes of CARP.

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