Today, Sulong UBC commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. On January 22, 1987, 20,000 protesters led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), a militant and democratic movement of landless peasants, small farmers, farm workers, rural youth, and peasant women, marched to Mendiola, calling for genuine land reform. Instead of listening to their demands and fulfilling the campaign promises of genuine land reform made by President Cory Aquino, state forces fired directly at the protesters, killing 13 defenseless farmers and wounding hundreds. As declared by Bayan Canada in its remembrance of the Mendiola Massacre, “The fascist State showed it was determined to crush and silence any resistance, especially from the peasants, in order to maintain the feudal set-up and the monopoly of big landlords over agricultural lands.”
Many decades later, peasants, fisherfolk, and farmers—those who harvest and catch our food—still face repression by the Philippine State for demanding their rights. On January 15th, 2022, Rose Marie Galias and Silvestre Fortades Jr., members of the farmers group Anakpawis, were gunned down in Sorsogon by “four unidentified assailants, who used two motorcycles.” A common tactic by state assassins in the Philippines, it is clear that the two were targeted because they were peasant organizers resisting feudal exploitation. Their deaths mark 347 extrajudicial killings of peasants under the Duterte regime.
Two days prior, on January 13th, the Cavite police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Seraph Security Agency violently dispersed 1200 residents of Patungan Cove, part of Hacienda Looc, in Cavite. They opened fire on the farmers and fisherfolk who had set up barricades to protect their community and wounded three residents. As put by BAYAN USA, this was “the recent culmination of a decades-long land grabbing campaign against fisherfolk and farmers.” Since 2004, the residents have faced displacement from the Sy clan’s Manila Southcoast Development Corporation (MSDC) which claimed the 8,650-hectare Hacienda Looc and used the Cove for eco-tourism projects such as condominiums, a golf course, and beach resorts.
Land is life. It is the primary political and economic issue in the Philippines. The masses cry out for genuine land reform and are met with state violence as the Philippine state prioritizes profits for the bureaucrat capitalist and landlord classes who extract wealth from the land and its people completely unchecked.
As an organization of youth and students, Sulong UBC recognizes that our fellow youth and students are also members of the oppressed peasant and worker classes who are exploited by bureaucrat capitalists and landlords who steal their land and labour. Young people face limited access to education due to poverty or the active repression of their education by the Philippine state through its counterinsurgency operations of red-tagging and direct attacks like those against the Lumad schools.
These acts remind us of the violent dispersals of the working masses here in so-called Vancouver, the constant land-grabbing and violent removal of Indigenous peoples by the Canadian state and extractive industries, and the genocide of Indigenous children via Canadian residential schools. Our struggles are connected and we must continue to engage in international solidarity as we fight against our common enemies.
Sulong UBC condemns the actions of the bureaucrat capitalist and landlord classes in league with US imperialism to extract as much profit as possible from the land and bodies of the Filipino people. Filipino youth and students in so-called Canada must continue to raise the consciousness of the Filipino diaspora, especially as the Philippines moves into the May 2022 election.
While the faces of the Philippine state have changed in the 35 years since the Mendiola Massacre, the blood on its hands has not washed away. We are outraged at the continued exploitation and repression of peasants, farmers, and fisherfolk in the Philippines, and strongly denounce these state-sanctioned acts of violence against them. Yet, we are also inspired by peasants, farmers, and fisherfolk who fight for justice. In the face of a terrorist state, we are reminded that we cannot be afraid, and we must continue to struggle for land, life, and liberation.
Justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre and other victims of state repression!
Lupa, Hindi Bala! Land, Not Bullets!
Justice for Rose Galias and Silvestre Fortades Jr!
Stop Killing Farmers! Stop The Attacks!
Stop the demolition! Stop environmental plunder! Save Patungan now!
Resist State Terror! Makibaka! Huwag matakot!