ILOILO City – Thirty one years after ‘Mendiola massacre’, peasant group Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) continue to demand justice as killings of farmers remain unabated under president Duterte.

Dubbed as Mendiola Massacre, on January 27, 1987 in Mendiola, Metro Manila, protesting farmers calling for land reform under then landlord president Cory Aquino were fired upon by state forces killing 13 farmers and wounded several others.

PAMANGGAS said that after 31 years of the massacre, justice remains elusive for victims and their families. The group also lambasted Duterte’s internal security program, Oplan Kapayapaan which resulted to the escalating number of farmers being killed under his regime.

Citing the latest statistics of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), PAMANGGAS said that out of 126 victims of political killings under Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan, 110 are farmers.

“An average of six farmers are killed every month since Duterte assumed office in June 2016. More than hundreds of farmers were also arrested and detained, thousands suffered from forced evacuations due to intense military operations, and tens of thousands suffered from rights violations especially in Mindanao where Martial Law was declared,” said Lucia Capaducio, the group’s chairperson.

“Those killed are leaders of our peasant groups and farmer-activists fighting for land and calling for genuine land reform. We were also red-tagged and accused of supporting the New People’s Army by the Duterte regime. This is a clear method of this regime to silence its critics and those calling for meaningful reforms,” Capaducio added.

The group also expressed concern over the Duterte’s ”plan to put up a dictatorship under the guise of federalism.”

“Aside from killings, this regime is also gradually killing us farmers by his anti-people policies like the TRAIN law and his plan to push for constitutional amendments. Under TRAIN, we are burdened by increasing prices of commodities while no government subsidy on agricultural production is given to us. In our local study, a family of farmer with 6 members will have an estimated PHP661.00 a week or PHP94.43 a day of additional expenses under the TRAIN law,” said Cris Chavez, Anakpawis Panay coordinator.

“Charter change also poses threats to open our agricultural lands to 100% foreign ownership and investments and eliminating protectionist provisions of the 1987 Constitution. It is a clear disregard for land distribution and social justice,” Chavez continued.

“Landlessness remains a concern for most of us farmers in the country as 9 out of 10 farmers do not own the land they till,” he added.

The group called for wider support of farmers for genuine land reform and distribution and justice to hundreds of farmers killed by the state and to thousands of victims of human rights violations.

They also demand the end of Martial Law in Mindanao and the scrapping of policies like TRAIN and the government’s plan to revise the constitution in favor of Duterte’s tyrannical dictatorship.

“We cannot allow the Duterte regime to continue its massacre of farmers through political killings and burdensome economic policies. It is high time that we unite to fight against his looming dictatorship,” concluded Chavez. (panaytoday.net)


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