Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mendiola Massacre (and others)...

One street. One bridge. One historical place that set the Philippines in the world map of violence and injustice. The need to be heard, the need to be seen, the need for reform. A just government is all it asked for. And yet...
In 1970, Mendiola became the sole witness to violent confrontations between during the Marcos regime where four student demonstrators were dead on the spot.

On January 22, 1987, police and the military open-fired on a protest rally of about 10,000 farmers who were demanding genuine land reform from then President Corazon Aquino. Thirteen of the protestors died and hundreds more were injured in that incident now called the Mendiola Massacre, with its anniversary being commemorated today by another protest in the Mendiola Bridge by farmers from Southern Luzon, still asking a decent land reform law.

And on May 1, 2001, supporters of President Joseph Estrada, marched to Mendiola after demonstrations outside the EDSA Shrine demanding the release of the then ousted President. A violent confrontation fired up between Estrada supporters and members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who were then tasked by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to secure MalacaƱang Palace and the areas surrounding it. Casualties were high on both the Estrada supporters and government troops. Aside from several deaths and hundreds of injured, damages to surrounding property triggered some hard-knocks to take advantage of the situation and started looting the stores and establishments with damaged entrances. Later, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a State of National Emergency but lifted it after two days.

Today is the anniversary of this famed venue for protests, death, and injury - a certain and inevitable part of the history of any democratic nation, all we ask is this - let us not deprive ourselves of the honor of being known because of our talents, knowledge, culture, art, or even history but not because hundreds of people needed to sacrifice their lives just to be world-renowned.


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