Sensing an opportunity to inflict damage on his political rival, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada vowed that an incident similar to the January 22, 1987 Mendiola Massacre will never occur during his reign.
On Thursday, media handlers of Estrada came up with a press release, putting the blame on former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim over the infamous massacre called “Black Thursday” that left 13 marchers dead right on the historic Mendiola Bridge, now called Chino Roces Bridge, a few steps away from Malacañang.
The release did not quote Estrada and said security preparations are being handled by Police Station 4 under Supt. Mannan Muarip in connection with planned protests to mark the 29th anniversary of the incident.
“Supt. Muarip said that as per directives from Mayor Joseph Estrada through the MPD [Manila Police Department] leadership as well as from the National Capital Region Police Office [NCRPO], they are implementing a ‘maximum tolerance’ policy in anticipation of activities by groups commemorating the incident,” it added.
The Mendiola Massacre is regarded one of the darkest moments of the presidency of Corazon Aquino (1986-1992), widow of fallen Benigno Aquino Jr. and mother of now President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Lim then was the commander of the Western Police District, now renamed as Manila Police District.
Some 15,000 marchers invaded the freedom bridge.
After dispersal, 13 were found dead, while 39 others sustained gunshot wounds.
“Farmers have said Lim represented ‘fascist repression,’ noting that the police that time even initially used truncheons and tear gas to disperse the marchers. The militant groups have said Lim was responsible for the shooting of the marchers, and yet no charges were filed against him,” the release said.
Muarip said thousands of members of cause-oriented groups are expected to troop to Mendiola, a move that will hamper traffic flow in nearby España, Morayta, Lacson and Legarda streets.
Estrada and Lim are running for mayor in the May 9 elections together with 5th Disrict Rep. Amado Bagatsing.