Twenty-six years past the 1987 massacre at Mendiola, justice continues to be elusive for the families and friends of the victims of one of the bloodiest crackdown on peasants in Philippine history. Even until her death, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was never held accountable for her hand, being the highest Philippine official then and AFP Commander-in-Chief, on the massacre. Even her cohorts, who continue to wield power, have escaped justice.
On that fateful day, thirteen died from among 20,000 protesting farmers, who were demanding for genuine land reform. The Filipino people awoke to the truth and bore witness to the brutal display of state fascism; it became clear that the fulfillment of genuine land reform was impossible under Cory’s haciendera hands. Corazon Aquino, being an heiress of one of the biggest and most vicious landlord families in the country, was unmasked unequivocally, despite her much-vaunted CARP, as anti-peasant.
Three years ago, Benigno Aquino III, the scion of the icon of “democracy," won in an electronically-rigged election by pretending to be a “champion” of “peace, development and good governance.” Now on his mid-term, his fascist agenda has exposed him both as rabidly anti-peasant and as out-and-out pro-imperialist. Let us not forget that it was Benigno Aquino III who, still a senator then, gave the go signal for state troopers to fire at will at protesting farmers, which became known as the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre of 2004.
Across the nation, moreover, Filipino peasants continue to suffer from feudal and semi-feudal exploitation and oppression under conditions of landlessness and abject poverty. Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, a prominent and despotic member of the clan, has long subjected thousands of peasants to feudal enslavement, exploiting them, to cite one in particular, by stealing the coco levy funds.
Presently, numerous massacres against the peasantry occur with merciless impunity amid centuries-old feudal & semi-feudal exploitation in the countryside. Continuing what his mother began, Benigno Aquino III had his government extend the lopsided, pro-landlord CARP, presently titled Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-ER (CARPER) which virtually gives more leverage to landlords and imperialist agri-business and, ironically, deprives land from millions of peasants. And worse, he openly favored, despite people’s protests, foreign monopoly capitalists by signing into law Executive Order No. 79, giving foreign large-scale mining more latitude to plunder the nation’s natural resources and the environment.
What the Mendiola massacre did to shatter the façade of Corazon Aquino’s “democracy,” Oplan Bayanihan (OPB) did to expose the hypocrisy of Benigno Aquino’s “daang matuwid.” Since its inception, the OPB has combined extensive combat operations with deceptive civic-military operations to terrorize peasant, Lumad and Moro communities in the countryside, exacerbating all kinds of human rights violations. It has done nothing to stop extra-judicial killings from its bloody tracks, so far killing over a hundred individuals, which include people from the religious, mass media and other activist groups.
The “Mendiola massacre” under Benigno Aquino III should not stop Filipino peasants from asserting genuine land reform through various anti-feudal mass struggles. With landlords and big bourgeois compradors still at helm of power, it is clear as day that the people cannot hope for the attainment of genuine land reform under the present reactionary government.
Thus, only through the national democratic revolution, the main content of which is agrarian revolution, can the Filipino people liberate themselves from feudal exploitation and oppression and fascism perpetuated by the big landlord, such as the Cojuangcos and the Aquinos, and their imperialist master. Alongside armed struggle and base-building, it is imperative to strengthen and sustain agrarian revolution on the basis of the anti-feudal united front in the countryside.