Agrarian reform 30 years after Mendiola massacre
Thirty years after the heinous Mendiola massacre, the Filipino peasantry continues to experience injustice. Aside from the fact that no one has ever been convicted of the killings, no genuine agrarian reform law has been enacted up to now.
On Jan. 22, 1987, thousands of farmers marched on Mendiola to protest the Aquino administration’s lack of action on land reform. Instead of hearing them out, anti-riot personnel, disguised as civilians, open-fired on the unarmed protesters killing 13 and injuring almost a hundred.
In response to this dreadful incident, the government was forced to implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) a year later. However, CARP has been deceptive and only protected the interest of the landlords. Worse, militarization and killings of farmers have been rampant.
The Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP) fully support House Bill No. 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). We believe that GARB’s provisions (e.g., free land distribution, protection against land conversions and land grabbing, adequate support service delivery) radically break away from previous landlord-centered agrarian reform provisions and present a much promising and viable way to end land monopoly.
PNFSP hope that President Duterte will be true to his promise—that change is coming. Agrarian reform remains a crucial issue. We believe that Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano has the interest of the peasants at heart. And we stand firm in our resolve to work with and for the peasants to advance their demands for genuine agrarian reform. It is, after all, only through their united and organized action that change will finally come.
SHARLENE O. LOPEZ, executive director, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
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