The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women joined other organizations and advocates in commemorating the Mendiola Massacre’s 35th anniversary. The peasant women group stressed the persisting lack of justice for the massacre’s victims, as well as the decades of violence Filipino farmers continue to suffer at the hands of the state.
“For 35 years, through six presidents, we have sought justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre to no avail. This is because each of these administrations, from Cory Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte, have inflicted their own legacy of systemic violence on Filipino farmers,” Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano said. “Farmers, agricultural workers, and peasants have faced massacres, extrajudicial killings, torture, threats, illegal arrests. Their livelihoods are destroyed by neoliberal policies such as the Rice Liberalization Law, while calls for land distribution are blocked by laws like CARP and CARPER.”
On January 22, 1987, over ten thousand farmers, peasants, workers, and advocates peacefully marched toward Malacañang, seeking genuine agrarian reform through dialogue with then president Corazon Aquino. Upon reaching Mendiola, however, they were blocked by police and military units. When protestors tried pushing through the barricade, state forces opened fire on the thousands of unarmed individuals. 13 were killed, while at least 50 were severely injured.
“We must emphasize that because seats of power have been long-held by landlords, compradors, and bureaucrat capitalists, our country’s policies have always been socially, politically, and economically structured to be anti-farmer. Land and social injustice in the Philippines cannot be separated.”
Under Duterte’s administration alone, hundreds of farmers have been murdered due to extrajudicial killings and counterinsurgency programs. 46 peasant women are among those killed, while even more have become political prisoners and victims of red-tagging. Amihan, alongside other peasant and farmer groups, continues to demand land reform, the distribution of agricultural land to farmers, the junking of policies killing local production, and the enactment of policies such as GARB and RIDA.
“Year after year, we call for justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre and uphold their fight for genuine agrarian reform and land distribution. We will continue to do so for as long as necessary. We challenge candidates in the upcoming election to break the cycle and finally heed the call of Filipino farmers,” Soriano ended.