Wrongfully arrested Tinang83 are rightful landowners

After conducting “bungkalan, meaning “land cultivation to assert ownership”, the police arrested at least 87 persons without a warrant of arrest in the town of Concepcion in Tarlac province on June 9, 2022. Among the arrested people were several small-scale farmers, land reform advocates, journalists, students and artists. Initially they were charged with illegal assembly and malicious mischief; later they faced charges for disobedience and resistance to authority as well as obstruction of justice, among others.

The so-called “Tinang83” remained imprisoned until they were bailed out on June 12, 2022. Two of seven trumped-up charges were then junked by a court in Tarlac; the group is still facing the other charges. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) affirmed on June 20, 2022, that the two-million square meter agrarian reform land block in Hacienda Tinang rightfully belonged to 178 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs); 94 of them are MAKISAMA members, who are part of the Tinang83, and should receive in total 758,000 square meters or over 8,000 square meters each. A week later, a judge at Capas court also noted that the Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) in the possession of the ARBs are “sufficient proof to entitle the holders the right to possess the lands.”

Members of the Tinang83 group filed a month after the incident complaints against Lt. Col. Reynold Macabitas, chief of Concepcion police. The farmers association Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) asserted that at least 30 policemen from Concepcion town, who participated in the mass arrest, are now facing multiple complaints.

The land was formerly controlled by the Tinang SN. Multi-purpose Cooperative Inc. under the Villanueva family, who filed a petition, seeking to nullify and stop the land distribution process under DAR. The Tinang83 farmers are still looking for lawyers as well as donations to cover their legal fees.

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