Author Topic: Remembering The Mendiola Massacre (Jan 22, 1987)  (Read 1451 times)


Remembering The Mendiola Massacre (Jan 22, 1987)
« on: January 21, 2013, 11:41:14 am »
Remembering The Mendiola Massacre (Jan 22, 1987)

The Mendiola massacre, also called Black Thursday by some Filipino journalists, was an incident that took place in Mendiola Street, San Miguel, Manila, Philippines on January 22, 1987, in which state security forces violently dispersed a farmers' march to Malacañan Palace. Thirteen of the peasants were killed and many wounded when government anti-riot forces opened fire on the marchers.

By January 1987, the administration of Corazon C. Aquino had been in power less than a year since the ouster Ferdinand E. Marcos as President of the Philippines. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Filipino, "Peasants' Movement of the Philippines"), a militant farmers' group led by Jaime Tadeo, demanded genuine agrarian reform from the Aquino government.

On January 15, 1987, members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas encamped at the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now the Department of Agrarian Reform) in Diliman, Quezon City. The group presented their problems and demands, one of which was the free distribution of land to farmers. Dialogue between the farmers, represented by Jaime Tadeo, and the government, represented by then Agrarian Reform minister Heherson Alvarez took place on January 20, 1987. Alvarez promised to bring the matter to the President's attention during the next day's cabinet meeting.

The farmers barricaded the Ministry of Agrarian Reform offices on January 21, 1987 and prevented government employees from exiting the building. A negotiating panel was to be assembled the following day for further talks.

On January 22, 1987, the farmers decided to march to Malacañan Palace in order to air their demands instead of negotiating with Heherson Alvarez. Marching from the Quezon Memorial Circle, Tadeo's group was joined by members of other militant groups: Kilusang Mayo Uno (May One Movement), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), League of Filipino Students and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (Unity Congress of the Urban Poor). At 1:00 in the afternoon, the marchers reached Liwasang Bonifacio and held a brief presentation. At around the same time, anti-riot personnel under the command of Capital Regional Command commander Gen. Ramon Montaño, Task Force Nazareno under the command of Col. Cesar Nazareno and police forces under the command of Western Police District Chief Brig. Gen. Alfredo Lim were deployed around the vicinity of Malacañang.

The first line of civil disturbance control units consisted of policemen from the Western Police District. About ten yards behind the policemen were Integrated National Police Field Force units. The third line, a further ten yards from the second police line, consisted of a Philippine Marine Corps unit, the Marine Civil Disturbance Control Battalion. Positioned behind the Marines were army trucks, water cannons, fire trucks and two Mobile Dispersal Teams equipped with tear gas delivery gear.

The marchers numbered 10,000–15,000 by the time they reached Claro M. Recto Avenue. They clashed with the police, and the police lines were breached. At this point, gunshots were heard and the marchers disengaged from the melee, retreating towards Claro M. Recto Avenue. Sporadic gunfire could be heard amidst the withdrawal. Alfredo Lim, now Mayor of Manila, maintains that the Marines were responsible for the shooting.

Twelve marchers were immediately confirmed dead; later sources would cite thirteen. Thirty-nine had gunshot wounds and 12 sustained minor injuries. On the state security forces' side, three sustained gunshot wounds and 20 suffered minor injuries. President Corazon Aquino convened a special body chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Abad Santos, the Citizens’ Mendiola Commission, to investigate the incident. The body recommended the prosecution of all commissioned officers of the Western Police District and the Integrated National Police Field Force who were armed at that time.

In protest over the massacre, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights, Jose Diokno and J.B.L. Reyes, resigned from the government.

In 1988, the Manila Regional Trial Court issued a decision to dismiss a P6.5-million class suit filed by relatives of the victims. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1993.

In 2007, members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas installed a granite marker at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the incident.

The government disallowed the conduct of demonstrations at Mendiola. However, in January 2008, Mayor Alfredo Lim, allowed rallies at the landmark, as long as they were held on weekends and holidays

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