PCFS statement on the 35th Anniversary of Mendiola Massacre
On 22 January 2022, we are one with the Filipino peasantry in pursuing justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre and call to end the continuing attacks against farmers and rural peoples in the country.
State forces under the then-president Corazon Cojuangco Aquino opened fire at thousands of farmers protesting in the capital on January 22, 1987. At least 13 farmers were killed and hundreds more injured in the state-sponsored mass murder.
The march was led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and converged thousands of farmers and agricultural workers from over 50 provinces. It called on the newly installed government to implement a redistributive land reform program. Peasants, who led the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, demanded that the Aquino government reverse the crony landgrabs and dismantle the land monopoly, among others.
Until today, not a single perpetrator was tried and held accountable, including the Commander-in-Chief Aquino. In fact, the defense secretary when the mass killing occurred—Fidel V. Ramos—will have become the next President in 1992.
The Philippine government has denied justice for the survivors and relatives for three and a half decades now.
Landlessness and massacres persist
The public massacre signified a watershed moment for the land reform movement in the Philippines. Owing to the pressure from the growing peasant movement, the Aquino regime implemented the pro-landlord land reform Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, or CARP, in 1988.
The bogus program CARP made sure that haciendas and landlord estates remain intact while they gave away piecemeal parcels of public lands to quell peasant uprisings. It exempted most privately held lands and created exceptions for the landed to evade redistribution.
After achieving a paltry 22% of its heavily reduced targets in 1998, it was extended as CARPER—supported by pro-government groups like Akbayan and international cohorts like Focus on the Global South.
CARPER became known as the costliest, most inefficient, and most unjust land reform in the history of Asia.
After decades, landlessness remains the largest shackle of rural poverty in the Philippines, while peasant massacres remain a headline staple.
Organizers of the Mendiola March, KMP, assert that at least seven out of ten farmers still don’t own the land they till. Efforts to introduce legislation that will radically redistribute land like the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill sponsored by Anakpawis partylist, which represents the toiling masses, in the last decade have met considerable opposition in the landlord-filled Congress.
The Philippines remains the most dangerous country for land defenders and activists in the world. Under the Duterte regime alone, over 347 farmers were killed by state forces—including at least 15 massacres.
As the struggle continues, we at the Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty, including our members and allies, throw our utmost support behind the Filipino peasantry in their calls for food, land, and justice.
Justice for the victims of Mendiola Massacre!
Genuine Agrarian Reform, Now!
Fight for food, land, and justice!