(Peasant Movement of the Philippines)
No. 54 Masikap St. cor. Barangay Central,
Telefax 4353564 E-mail: email@example.com
25 June 1999
Statement of the peasant
on the Tungkong Mangga
FIGHT land reconcentration of the resurgent Marcos mafia, defeat militarist
violence committed against peasants, struggle for genuine land reform in
Tungkong Mangga !!! Statement of the peasant movement on the Tungkong Mangga
The drive to monopolize land of the few and the propensity of the Estrada
regime to coddle Marcos cronies and relatives has once again claimed the
lives of farmers who only aspired to own the land they till. In behalf
of big landlords and foreign investors, the military machine of the puppet
Estrada regime committed another violation of human rights, another massacre.
Last June 18, 1999, at about 11:30 AM, goons belonging to Securicor
Agency and Philippine Marines in civilian clothes, some 26 in all and armed
with M-16 ang M-14 rifles, fired at a group of farmers who were repairing
their wicker lean to in Purok 5, Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
As if their dastardly act were not enough, they poured gasoline on the
half-finished shanty and set it on fire. Then they hastily left, leaving
behind four farmers dead and two severely wounded.
Those who died on the spot were Alexander Suan, Roberto Tadle, Mario
Arozo, and Benedicto Dalaguit while the wounded were Maximo Suan and Santos
Tadle, Jr. The survivors are in critical condition.
Hours before the incident, the armed men approached the farmers and
ordered them to stop repairing their hut. They proceeded to drink gin near
the construction activity and after two hours, and them said, "bakit
ba nandyan pa yan, simulan na natin ang laro!"
Alexander Suan got a total of twenty bullets, singled out because he
tried to take pictures while the armed men were shooting. The crazed mob
pushed four-year-old Ritchie, daughter of Benedicto Dalaguit, into the
burning hut but she managed to stand up and run away, to this day traumatized.
The victims were all members of Samahang Magsasaka ng Tungkong Mangga
(SMTM), a peasant organization of some 800 farmers tilling plots of land
within Carmel Farms. Most of the members of SMTM came from as far-away
as Laguna and Quezon provinces. Driven from their places of origin by landlessness,
they occupied the property and made it productive of their labors prodded
by hopes of someday owning what was once an idle and abandoned land.
If the Estrada regime and the regimes preceding it only had political
will to fulfill such aspiration, the farmers of SMTM should have
owned the property by now. The land is part of foreclosed property and
has been placed under receivership of the Central Bank since 1987.
It should have been turned over to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
for distribution to qualified farmers.
But between the land and the farmers' aspiration to own it, there stands
Gregorio "Greggy" Araneta III, son-in-law of former dictator Marcos and
a close friend of the Estrada regime. He holds on to the 1,000-hectare
land in order "to regain their prestige in the real estate industry." He
has used legal maneuvers available under RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Law to avoid the distribution of the property even under a
bogus agrarian reform program. To drive away the farmers and retain
actual control of the land, he has hired some 1,000 strong security guards
from Securicor Agency and Gardwell Security Agency. Beefing up this security
force are some 40 elements of Philippine Marines Their combined presence
has turned Tungkong Mangga into a virtual military zone and a warlord's
haven right in the backyard of Metro Manila.
For three years now, the farmers of SMTM have suffered without let-up
various harassments in the hands of this mighty security force. They have
been prevented from planting and harvesting. Their crops are uprooted everytime
they attempt to sow something new. Whatever shanty they would build are
either razed to the ground or destroyed. Their ingress and egress
have been sealed and whatever construction materials they would bring are
detained if not confiscated. Lately, they have been notified to vacate
Months before the incident, the farmers of SMTM called for a series
of dialogues with the security guards in order to gain some accomodation.
The last of these dialogues was on June 17, 1999, the day before the incident.
The security guards must have sensed the determination of SMTM farmers
to pursue their rights to the land that they applied the "final solution"
the next day.
The Tungkong Mangga massacre only shows in ever more clear light the
absence of genuine land reform program in this country. It only shows that
the land problem that separates the vast majority of our population, the
farmers, and a few big landlords can not be resolved by the "corporative
scheme" or any formula promoting cooperation between landlords and farmers,
between the exploiters and the exploited, and between the murderers and
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pamalakaya-Pilipinas, Sentro
para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA), Association of Lawyers
and Students for the Advancement of Nationalism (Alsana), National Network
of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)
jointly condemn in the strongest words possible the Tungko Mangga massacre.
We condemn the Aranetas and all his kind for snuffing the life of four
innocent farmers, scarring the life of two others and for denying the farmers
of SMTM their legitimate rights to the land. We condemn the Estrada regime
for abetting this massacre by implementing his "all out war" policy that
has intensified the militarizatuion in the countryside and to the scuttling
of the peace talks. We condemn his applying military solutions to the land
problem of the Filipino peasantry through criminalization of agrarian disputes,
illegal arrests of leaders of mass organizations, abductions and
massacres by elements of his
military machine. And more than anything else, we condemn the
Estrada regime for perpetuating the bigger injustice of denying genuine
land distribution to the Filipino peasantry.
We demand justice for the victims of Tungkong Mangga massacre and for
all victims of human rights violations under the Estrada regime and the
regimes preceding it. And justice for the victims not only means
bringing the perpetrators to jail but the implementation of genune land
reform. # # #