Hundreds of farmers on Friday trooped to Mendiola Bridge near Malacanandg in Manila to commemorate the 1987 killing of 13 farmers and wounding of more than 80 others, an event that mired the administration of then-President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, mother of now President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“Twenty-nine years have passed and the very reason for the death of the 13 farmers has[not been determined],” Rafael Mariano, chairman of Kilusang Manbubukid ng Pilipinas, said in Filipino.
Saying they do not expect President Aquino to lift a finger, the protesters turned their voices at three presidential candidates, namely Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
“We are urging the three presidential frontrunners to tell us their plans to achieve genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast farm landholdings,” Mariano said, referring to the sugar plantation in Tarlac province owned by the family of the President.
He added that the Hacienda Luisita case is a litmus test for the presidential hopefuls.
Antonio Flores, the militant group’s secretary-general, noted that none of the three candidates has “categorically declared support for genuine land reform.”
During the term of Corazon Aquino, a land reform program was devised at the sugar estate, wherein beneficiaries were made stockholders.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ordered distribution of all agricultural lands, including Hacienda Luisita.
“We are calling on the next President to reverse the fake distribution [of lands covered by the sugar plantation]being managed by DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform]. The scheme simply displaced the farmers and divide their ranks,” Flores said.