Nearly a year after People Power, Cory Aquino’s betrayal of Filipino farmers and democracy, Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987
MANILA, Philippines – On the 30th anniversary of the People Power or the February 25, 1986 ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, the Anakpawis Party-list said that the two Cojuangco-Aquino presidents, Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino and his son the incumbent president, Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, are among those to be blamed for the continuing betrayal of the spirit of “democracy” and “freedom” from authoritarian rule.
“The two Cojuangco-Aquino presidents, ruling the country for almost 12 years, and the intervening regimes of three other presidents, have in fact continued the Marcosian legacy of condemning majority of Filipinos, namely, the farmers and workers to live in unthinkable poverty and misery,” Anakpawis Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said who joined the protest at EDSA led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Assault on rights to land, wages
Anakpawis said that the administration of the late president Cory Aquino authorized “Mendiola Massacre” on January 22, 1987 that resulted the killing of 13 farmers. There were about 30,000 farmers and protesters who marched towards Mendiola Bridge in Manila but were met by an armed-to-the teeth contingent of government forces who opened fire at the mob. The rally was led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) who was demanding what Aquino has promised, agrarian reform. On January 16, 1986, Cory Aquino promised that “land-to-the-tiller must become a reality instead of an empty slogan.
“Agrarian reform is clearly a democratic agenda as majority among Filipinos are farmers, and it only took a year for Cory Aquino to totally demolish that hope, the farmers to own the land they till,” Hicap said.
To try to make it appear that she was true to her promise, she pushed for the enactment of Republic Act No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which became a law on June 10, 1988. On the said law’s expiration on June 30, 2014 or 26 years and two extension later, CARP did not however come even near the fulfilment of her “land-to-the-tiller” campaign pledge.
“The whole world knows that farm workers in Hacienda Luisita were massacred and the Cojuangco-Aquino family still keeps control over vast lands at present,” Hicap said.
Anakpawis said that the Cory Aquino administration enacted laws that are detrimental to both Filipino farmers and workers and that played a crucial role in the Hacienda Luisita massacre. A day before CARP was enacted, the Aquino regime enacted Republic Act No. 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, while months before on March 2, 1989, the Republic Act No. 6715 or “Herrera Law.” Anakpawis said that the Herrera Law introduced the “assumption of jurisdiction” power of the labor secretary, and its power to promote the hiring of contractuals and other non-regular workers. Assumption of jurisdiction is usually invoked by the labor secretary to break up the legitimate strikes launched by workers in the country such as it was used prior to the November 16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre violent dispersal.
“Cory Aquino’s presidency betrayed the Filipino workers by breaking up the wage levels among regions and promotion of contractualization, which both landmark laws attacked the legitimate rights of workers for wages and form unions,” Hicap said.
On the part of the young Aquino, Anakpawis was aware even before his presidency that agrarian reform was ill-fated. On February 9, 2010, during his campaign, he vowed distribution of Hacienda Luisita by 2014 with his spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announcing “it’s not just a campaign promise, it’s a matter of principle.” At present nearing the end of his term, though the Supreme Court ruled for the revocation of the stock distribution option (sdo) plan and ordered the distribution of the lands to the Hacienda Luisita farmers, they continue to fight off land grabbing by Tarlac Dev’t Corp. (Tadeco) owned by the Cojuangco family, harassment and displacement.
“The Cojuangcos conned the Hacienda Luisita farmers twice, during Cory’s time and at present,” Hicap said.
With CARP’s expiration on June 30, 2014, the Aquino administration has left the agrarian reform agenda in limbo, with no existing laws for land acquisition and distribution. Anakpawis is pushing for House Bill No. 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that promotes free distribution of lands to farmers.
Aquino has also ignored the legitimate demand of Filipino workers for P125 wage hike, across the regional boards and nationwide, encoined by House Bill No. 253 filed by Anakpawis’ Hicap and Makabayan bloc lawmakers. Instead, he implemented the Department Order 18-A, that aggravated contractualization in November 2011 and the two-tiered wage system in October 2012.
Aside from major policies, Aquino’s flagship Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program has instigated systematic and wholesale land grabbing and displacement of farmers, retrenchment of workers, as well as demolitions of urban poor communities.
Same fascist rule with Martial Law
The two presidents are also guilty of reigning authoritarian rule. Cory Aquino has unsheathed her “Total War” Policy under Operational Plan (Oplan) Lambat Bitag (Net trap), while the young Aquino has his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Anakpawis said that the two Aquino family members had zero-ounce of libertarian tendencies of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.
During Marcos’ 14 years of dictatorial rule, it resulted the arbitrary arrest and detention of around 120,000 people; extra-judicial killings of 1,500 activists; and the enforced disappearance of 769 individuals, according to the alternative media site Bulatlat.
Under the regime of Corazon Aquino, 1,064 were victimized of extra-judicial killings, 816 of forced disappearances, 1.2 million of forced evacuation due to militarization, 20,523 of illegal arrests and detention, and 135 cases of massacres, also according to Bulatlat. The matron Aquino’s regime is known of the formation of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) and other para-military units that wreaked havoc in the countryside.
Under the present administration, as of September 2015, 294 has been victims of extra-judicial killings, 28 of enforced disappearances, 318 of frustrated killing, 3,237 of illegal arrests, 63,824 of forced evacuation, 161,552 of harassment, intimidation and threat, 29,257 of coercion of civilians to be guide to military operations, 182,389 of military occupation of civilian establishments and others, according to human rights group Karapatan.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos, who are great pretenders of being icons of democracy is of the same caliber as Marcos in terms of ruling with state terrorism,” Hicap said.
Anakpawis also assailed the Aquino regime for the latest assault on Lumad evacuees in Mindanao, the arson of the evacuation camp inside the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound.
Anakpawis urged various sectors to live by the true meaning of the People Power uprising by dispelling the notion that it was about the “clash of clans” of Marcos and Aquino, but instead Marcos against the Filipino people.
“We should learn by now, after three decades that neither Cory Aquino, nor Ninoy Aquino was the main determining factor of People Power; it was the will of the Filipino people to overthrow Marcos’ dictatorship,” Hicap said.
Hicap reminded that anti-people rule of post-People Power administrations that never realized fundamental reforms such as genuine agrarian reform, nationalist industrialization, wage hike, respect for human rights and more, is suggestive that choosing national leaders should not be among the ruling cliques or camps, but of leaders who were actually with the people’s struggle.
“We are here commemorating People Power and amused by the show of newly acquired air force arsenals, but we are positive that it would not even get into action against a foreign power, but would be used against Filipinos, such as what took place during Cory’s time in Marag valley,” Hicap said.
In 1990, almost all of the air power of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were used against the people in Marag Valley, Luna town in Apayao. Philippine Air Force’ ancient T-28 dive bombers, F5 jet fighters, huey helicopters, artillery and other ordnance were used against communities suspected of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA). It resulted the displacement of at least 3,000 Isneg and Aggay indigenous people, destruction of hundreds of houses, 19 rice granaries and 154 metric tons of rice. Marag Valley was a site for the “No man’s land” and “Scorched earth” strategy of the AFP. — ANAKPAWIS PARTYLIST ###