“As a prosecutor who claimed to have worked as a lawyer of the DAR, she should have known or she should ought to know that an agrarian dispute exists in our case and therefore should have referred the matter to the DAR as repeatedly moved to by our lawyers.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac filed a complaint against Tarlac Acting Provincial Prosecutor Mila Mae Montefalco at the Department of Justice on Thursday, July 7.
Complainants are Felino De Jesus Cunanan, Jr., Magdalena Magtoto, Mirasol Dela Cruz, Myrna Diamzon, Sonny Dimacurut, Annabelle Magana, Erlinda Aboy, Abegail Bucad and Florinda Callena, agrarian reform beneficiaries and their families. They were among the farmers and land reform advocates who were violently arrested while holding collective farming or bungkalan on June 9.
They filed grave and serious misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and procedure, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. They were assisted by lawyer Jobert Pahilga of Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra).
In the joint complaint affidavit, the complainants lament that Montefalco already showed her bias against the farmers and their supporters during the inquest proceedings.
Montefalco also proceeded with the filing of charges against them despite evidence that the issue should be referred to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as it is an agrarian reform issue.
Read: Tarlac farmers assert ownership of 200-hectare land controlled by political clan
“As a prosecutor who claimed to have worked as a lawyer of the DAR, she should have known or she should ought to know that an agrarian dispute exists in our case and therefore should have referred the matter to the DAR as repeatedly moved to by our lawyers,” the complaint read.
On June 27, the Capas-Bamban-Concepcion 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court granted the complainants motion to quash information against the Tinang 83. The court also referred the case to the DAR saying that it has no jurisdiction over the matter.
Read: Tarlac court junks cases against land reform beneficiaries and supporters
The complainants also assert that Montefalco committed grave and serious misconduct “when she conducted the inquest proceedings in an unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or discriminatory manner.”
“Her questions were intended not to elicit facts, but to incriminate us of whatever crimes we were charged,” the complaint stated.
“That during the inquest, she already had a conclusion that we are guilty of the crimes for which we were charged and subjected to inquest proceedings,” it continued, adding that Montefalco even questioned the presence of the media and asked them why they did not prevent the bungkalan from happening.
“Her deliberate refusal to refer the cases to the DAR and to file information to the courts against us, when the documentary evidence shown to her – the CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership Award) and the DAR issuances including and most especially the Writ of Execution – clearly established an agrarian dispute, betrays her gross and utter disregard of the law and the Rules of Procedure or gross ignorance thereof, showing clear bias in favor of the complainants,” the complaint read.
Meanwhile, Anakpawis Party-list National President Ariel Casilao, challenged Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla to “uphold the rule of law, and hold prosecutor Montefalco responsible for her abuses against the farmers and agrarian reform advocates, that led to their baseless and gruelling three-day detention.”
“The new leadership of DOJ should prove that it is for the interest of the poor and not for the rich,” Casilao said in a statement.
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), on the other hand, demanded that other charges filed against the Tinang 83 be junked as well.
The police filed additional charges against the 83 including obstruction of justice, resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agent of such person, and usurpation of real rights and charges of child exploitation and human trafficking. (RTS, RVO)