Group calls for justice for the victims of Mendiola, Luisita massacre

PRESIDENT Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino is a living proof that a haciendero president will always protect haciendero interests,” Anakbayan Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said as they joined the commemoration of the 26th year of the bloody Mendiola Massacre.

The youth group joined peasants, workers and urban poor as they marched the streets leading to Mendiola.

“The land reform situation 26 years ago is no different from today. Landlords like the President’s family continue to monopolize agricultural lands. Likewise, in an attempt to preserve their monopoly over lands, Aquino implements Oplan Bayanihan, a counterinsurgency program targeting farmers and activists fighting for genuine land reform,” Crisostomo said.

The massacre of 13 farmers on the historic bridge leading to Malacañang during Corazon Aquino’s first year as President. Only a year after the people’s uprising in EDSA, state security forces under Aquino’s watch opened fire on protesting famers in Don Chino Roces Bridge.

Eight years ago, farm workers from the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac were also shot at, leaving 7 farmers dead and hundreds wounded. Members of United Luisita Workers Union and Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union striked against Hacineda Luisita, Inc., citing unjust wages and labor practices, among many other labor issues.

Injustice against farmers and farm workers continue as the current Aquino administration refuse to distribute his family’s land after a Supreme Court decision in November 2010, saying that the farmers were the rightful owners of the 6,453-hectare land.

Despite its failure to distribute lands and address the land reform issue, the Aquino administration is keen on extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, now CARPER, to 2019. CARP, which was first implemented by Corazon Aquino in 1988, is set to expire in 2014 with over a million hectares of land still undistributed.

The youth group also condemned the Aquino government for its current moves to revive foreign-owned banana and coconut plantations and large-scale mining and logging operations in Mindanao.

“Aquino should implement genuine land reform for our own farmers’ and people’s food security. Failure to do so will only aggravate unprecedented hunger and poverty and inhumane living conditions in our country,” the youth leader said.

Meanwhile, allowing the operations of foreign and big plantations and mining companies to continue will only destroy our environment and maintain an economy heavily dependent on exporting cheap raw materials for foreign capitalists’ profit.

“Noynoy Aquino cannot wash his hands clean of continuing injustice and human rights violations against Filipino peasants. Extending CARPER and insisting on Oplan Bayanihan’s successful implementation will only prolong our farmers’ suffering,” Crisostomo said.

“Years of land monopoly have resulted in thousands of death of farmers fighting for the land they till. We demand for the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita, the junking of Aquino’s bogus land reform and passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill,” Anakbayan said.

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