“There can be no justice for massacred farmers unless genuine land reform as embodied in the National Democratic Front’s draft agreement on Socio-Economic reforms is realized.”
Thus said the Gabriela Women’s Party as they marched with peasant organizations today to commemorate the 30th year of the Mendiola Massacre that killed 13 farmer-protesters calling for genuine land reform under the administration of then President Corazon Aquino.
“After thirty years, haciendero families still dominate the countrysides, tens of thousands of hectares have been converted to multination plantations, reducing tillers to slaves and bereft of justice. Only the implementation of genuine land reform will set peasant families free from their feudal bondage and it is but historic that as we mark the 30th year of the Mendiola Massacre, the peace negotiations are discussing genuine land reform as part of the socio-economic reforms that give much hope to the vast majority of Filipinos,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus.
De Jesus said years of implementing the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has led to the further concentration of agricultural lands in the hands of a few and enabled haciendero families like the Aquino-Cojuancos to further dominate as they strip farmworkers of their dignity.
Aside from supporting the peace negotiations, De Jesus and Gabriela colleague Rep Arlene Brosas are also pushing for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill which they co-author with Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao and the Makabayan bloc.
Brosas meanwhile stressed the importance of keeping faithful to previous GPH-NDFP agreements, including the comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law to protect women and children from further military aggression. She laments the push for land conversion in the countrysides by multinational corporations and big business interests being backed by militarization and have created much unrest among peasant communities.
“This militarization of peasant communities puts peasant women and children in situations of violence and abuse. The rape, harassment of women in rural communities have not stopped especially since military presence remain unabated despite peace negotiations.”
The women’s partylist organization remains hopeful of the outcome of peace negotiations. “Just peace is possible. We fully support the negotiations and hope that both parties will find common ground in upholding the interest of our people.” #