It is with great sadness that we mark today (22 Jan., 2011) the 24th anniversary of the ignominious Mendiola Massacre. Until now, justice remains elusive. Worse, the perpetrators celebrate the sordid state of things from their lofty positions.
It was so much like today. Overcast clouds blanket the skies as some 10,000 peasant activists marched from the agrarian reform office in Quezon City to Mendiola in Manila to remind the late president Cory Aquino on her promise for a genuine agrarian reform.
At the corner of Claro M. Recto, they were met by an anti-riot force under the command of then Gen. Ramon Montaño, Col. Cesar Nazareno and Brig. Gen. Alfredo Lim. Without provocation, the government forces opened fire. Thirteen farmers were immediately killed, and 39 more wounded. Another 20 protesters suffered various injuries.
That dark chapter in our history shattered not only the glass dream of peaceful resolution of age-long agrarian conflict. It also bared the fascist character of an elitist government hiding behind populist slogans of people power. It would open the eyes of the public to the murderous frenzy erupting beneath the veneer of “democratic space.”
In the wake of the Mendiola Massacre, soldiers would also fire upon picketing workers in Bataan Export Processing Zone in Mariveles killing three, including a 10-year-old child. Barely a month later, soldiers of the 15th Infantry Battalion herded two peasant families, including children and a 5-month-old baby, at the foot of stairs of their homes in Barangay Namaladuyan, Lupao, Nueva Ejica. Then, the soldiers fired at their prisoners.
The massacre mania would pervade throughout the country. It would become the main feature of the Cory administration along with the free reign of military-backed vigilantes. In Cebu, headlines would scream out the collective names of victims of military-vigilante executions: Agtugop massacre in Asturias, and Buanoy massacre in Balamban. Guadalupe alone would lay claim to the Aniñon massacre in Sitio San Jorge, Tambugasa massacres in Sapanga-Daku, Abapo massacre in Lower Kamparang, Kalunasan.
The names of families and places are too painful to recall. Yet, their cries for justice will forever haunt us until justice is done.
We urge the Noynoy government to reopen these cases and reinvestigate these acts of genocide. Let the survivors and families of the victims be rehabilitated, and the perpetrators punished. Let Noynoy succeed where Cory has failed. Let the day of reckoning begin.