On the 30th year of Mendiola Massacre: Karapatan expresses support to NDFP’s proposals on socio-econ reforms

“Massacres of peasants continue because feudal bondage and the backward agricultural economy remain,” Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor said today, on the commemoration of the 30th year of the Mendiola massacre. Thirteen (13) farmers were killed by State security forces under the Corazon Aquino administration, during a protest action in 1987.

“Thus, the negotiations for the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) comes at an opportune time, albeit long-overdue because they will be tackling the same issues the peasants have been facing for hundreds of years,” Clamor said. 

“As long as landlords own vast haciendas while land tillers remain landless, Filipino peasants will always be at the forefront of the struggle for genuine land reform and rural development, the same alternatives that the NDFP proposed for the CASER,” Clamor said. “To suppress the organized peasants’ dissent and legitimate struggles, the military, the landlords’ private armies and other State machineries usually make them fair targets of human rights violations,” Clamor said. 

Clamor also mentioned that many peasant communities, during the GRP’s declared unilateral ceasefire, have been subjected to threats, harassment and occupation of elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. All of these, Clamor said, are violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). 

Karapatan earlier reported that in Cawayan and Dimasalang municipalities of Masbate province, at least 20 soldiers are living in each barangay since August 2016. Residents are being interrogated on the whereabouts of the New People’s Army, and the male residents are being coerced and forced to become CAFGUs (Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit).

“Soldiers of the GRP are occupying health centers, barangay halls and even residents’ houses, disrupting the everyday lives, livelihood and schooling of peasants, in Ragay and Del Gallego Camarines Sur, and in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat,” Clamor said. 

According to Save Our Schools Network, since October 2016, 1,003 children and adult students together with 31 community volunteer teachers covering 18 communities in 10 barangays of Palimbang were said to be threatened, intimidated and tagged as members and supporters of New People’s Army by the local government unit headed by Mayor Abubacar “Bakre” Maulana in collaboration with various agencies namely, National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DEPED), Philippine National Police and Phil. Marine Corps. 

On December 24, Christmas eve, Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee Chairman Jimmy Sotto was killed by unnamed men onboard a motrocycle.  He was bringing home some kalamay (rice cake) for his family for noche buena. Sotto was also the Secretary General of Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (Alliance of Capampangan Farmers).  

“Many lives of peasants have been sacrificed as the struggle for genuine land reform continues. Thus, we express our full support for the proposed CASER of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines for clearly identifying the root causes of the armed conflict and bravely proposing to break away from the bondage of oppression,” Clamor said. 
“In tackling the CASER, we call on the GRP to heed the calls of the peasants and all impoverished sectors to stop military operations in peasant communities, to implement the CARHRIHL and to pursue and implement social, economic and political reforms that will improve the lives of the Filipinos, majority of them are peasants,” Clamor ended.###