Today, the country observes the 36th year since the bloody Mendiola Massacre where twenty thousand peasant farmers marched to Mendiola to demand for genuine agrarian reform only to be met with a hail of bullets from the state forces leaving 13 dead and more than a hundred injured from the side of the landless peasant farmers.
While the ascendancy of a new government at that time under the Cory Aquino administration has brought hope and new expectations to farmers all over the land, the Aquino administration’s decision to adopt its predecessor, Marcos Sr.’s, Presidential Decree 27, to its Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has become more of an insult to the already deep injury that the farmers experienced under Marcos Sr.’s Presidential Decree 27. In hindsight, Presidential Decree 27 also known as “the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of the soil” has become nothing but lip service to the landless farmers and a safeguarding policy to plantation and hacienda owners – and so was CARP, that led the farmers to fight and assert for their right to land.
Land is not a mere commodity, but a necessary element for the actualization of many human rights. What PD 27 and CARP did prevent aside from the farmers’ right to land, achieving their economic, social, and cultural right, and right to development is also everyone’s right to adequate food. Today we are facing the biggest crises in food, climate, and economy in history. The Filipino farmers can no longer afford to be neglected further by the government of what is truly theirs and what is truly the solution to these crises – their sovereignty over land, seed and technology that shall be the foundation of a sustainable food system.
For MASIPAG, farmers’ sovereignty over seeds, technology, and land has always been the network’s basis in achieving farmer empowerment and food sovereignty and ultimately food security. Specifically for the right to land, upholding its inalienability towards peasant farmers must be met with a striking assertion, coming not only from the peasant sector, but also to the other sectors of the society.
Believing that the right to land, the same as the right to seeds and technology in order to achieve our empowerment, food sovereignty and food security, is also believing that in struggling for the right to land, namely struggling for genuine agrarian reform is also struggling for genuine and lasting peace: food security, economic stability and sustainability for us farmers.
Until today, justice remains aloof for the 13 farmers who were killed by the state agents in Mendiola.
MASIPAG is one with the countless farmers, land and peasant advocates in continuously demanding justice for the victims of Mendiola Massacre. We enjoin everyone in supporting the Filipino farmers’ uphill struggle for genuine agrarian reform.