By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and peasant advocates, collectively called as Tinang 83, filed multiple charges against the Concepcion police at the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, July 26.
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said that at least 30 police personnel are facing charges of physical and mental/psychological torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment; violation of rights of persons arrested, detained and under custodial investigation; perjury; unlawful arrest; arbitrary detention; conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service; grave abuse of authority; grave misconduct; and oppression.
In a statement, John Milton Lozande, chairperson of UMA, said that the charges are “just, urgent, and true—the opposite of those filed by the police against the Tinang 83 upon being prodded by (the) Mayor and landgrabber Noel Villanueva.”
The Tinang 83 were violently arrested on June 9 while they were holding a land cultivation activity.
Authorities filed charges of malicious mischief and illegal assembly but were eventually dismissed by the court citing, for one, that the court has no jurisdiction over the case because it was an agrarian dispute.
But the charges against them did not end there. They are still facing complaints of disobedience to a person in authority, obstruction of justice, and usurpation of real rights. Nine of them are also facing child exploitation and human trafficking charges.
UMA said the complaints were based on narratives by the Tinang 83 regarding their arrest on June 9, as well as the subsequent criminal charges filed against them.
“Holding Villanueva and his lackeys accountable for their violations of human rights and agrarian reform policy is especially timely, given that Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had nothing worthwhile to say about human rights and food sovereignty in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday,” Lozande said.
“This is an important wake-up call for bureaucrats and the people at large, alerting them to the fact that CARP has repeatedly failed farmers, and its failure has benefited no one but landgrabbers,” he added.
CARP refers to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. There are more than 236 ARBs in Hacienda Tinang who are waiting to be recognized as rightful owners of the 200 hectares of agricultural land.
The Department of Agrarian Reform has reaffirmed the Tinang farmers as owners of the disputed land but the agency has yet to install the farmers. (RTS, RVO)