Rural Missionaries urge church sectors to join farmers' appeal for justice of Mendiola Massacre victims
Manila, Philippines - The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) joins the Filipino farmers’ movement in remembering the heartless Mendiola Massacre on its 29th year, where 13 farmers were killed and more than a hundred wounded. Peasant groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) is marking the historic day by two-day protest, starting Thursday by a series of farmers’ dialogue with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) officials, to be concluded by a demonstration at Mendiola bridge in Manila tomorrow Friday.
RMP is also relating the atrocity to the continuing peasant repression under the Aquino administration, such as the successive extra-judicial killings this month. In a span of nine days, from January 9 to 18, 4 peasants, including a Lumad student and farmer, fell victims of gruesome killings. The group affirmed that the underlying factor of these acts of violence is the implementation of the counter-insurgency program of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Oplan Bayanihan. This unkind policy that usually victimizes those who assert for their basic rights such as to land, ancestral domain and livelihood.
Victims of January extra-judicial killings were Benjie Sustento, a sugar worker and a member of National Federation of Sugar Workers(NFS), killed last January 9, 2015 due to disputed farm lots in Murcia town, Negros Occidental; Rudy Peñaranda, chairperson of Fisherman Landless Association was killed last January 11 in Mati City, Davao Oriental; Albando Tingkas, 15 years old and a Lumad student of Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogan Community Learning Center in Talaingod, Davao del Norte was killed last January 17 by Alamara para-military group; and last January 18, Christopher Matibay, a Lumad leader was killed in Brgy. Lambajon, Baganga town, Davao Oriental.
"We reiterate our call to support the farmers' struggle for land and justice on the 29 years of injustice of Mendiola Massacre, and appeal to the Philippine legislature to pass the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or GARB”, stated by Sr. Francis Añover, rsm, RMP National Coordinator.
RMP stressed that the endless killings are forms of state repression against the farmers who have long been demanding genuine land reform in the country. House Bill No. 252 or GARB proposes free land distribution to farmers unlike the expired Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that charged farmer-beneficiaries of amortization.
“It is disheartening to witness at this modern time, that monoply control of a rich few to vast lands persists, while millions of Filipino farmer families suffer extreme poverty, hunger and misery,” Añover said.
Such cases of farmers’ displacement by big landlords and foreign monopoly are the issue of Hacienda Luisita, the 36,000-hectare Clark Green City project in Tarlac, Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, Hacienda Looc in Batangas, Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga, the MRT-7 inter-modal station project in Bulacan, the expansion of corporate plantations of oil palm and other products in Mindanao, the large-scale destructive mining operations across the country and other programs and projects.
“Lastly, as the papal encyclical #103 Laborem Exercens 1981 of St. John Paul II stated that “Agriculture is of fundamental importance” and on # 101 called “church people to help bring about radical changes in order to restore to agriculture and rural people their just value as a basis for a healthy economy.”
“We urge church sectors to help and support the peasants’ struggle for land and justice. It is morally just to support the call for free land distribution to Filipino farmers as it would remove the landlessness, hunger, poverty and injustices in our country”, ended by Añover.###
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay. We live and work with the peasants (farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers).