By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “Planting food and supporting farmers are no mischief, and the right to assembly is guaranteed by the highest law in the land.”
This is the statement of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas as those arrested in Hacienda Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac were formally charged with illegal assembly and malicious mischief.
Based on a resolution obtained by Bulatlat, Officer-in-Charge Provincial Prosecutor Mila Mae G. Montefalco-Ikeshita recommended a bail of P36,000 ($679) for the charge of illegal assembly and P3,000 ($57) for malicious mischief.
The resolution said that the accused “destroyed the plants on the lot being cultivated and managed by Tinang Samahan Nayon Multipurpose cooperative in behalf of their members.”
To occupy the land, the resolution read, farmers need to remove existing plants. This apparently showed the intention to purposely destroy the plants, resulting in a crime of malicious mischief.
For illegal assembly, Ikeshita claimed that the “meeting attended by the respondents who are armed and ready to resist any force that will prevent them from what they are doing.”
Meanwhile, eight individuals were already released by the police on June 10.
The KMP demanded for the immediate release and dropping of charges against the 83 remaining in jail including two journalists, nine student journalists and agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Tinang.
Meanwhile, various groups have called for donations to cover the P3.2 million ($60,322) bail for those who remain in jail.
On Thursday, June 9, the more than 90 individuals were violently arrested by the police while they are conducting bungkalan or collective farming.
The farmers of Hacienda Tinang has been calling the Department of Agrarian Reform to install the 236 agrarian reform beneficiaries who are all holders of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs). (JJE)