ANGELES, Philippines – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Monday, June 20, reaffirmed 178 farmers of Hacienda Tinang as rightful owners of the disputed 200-hectare land in Concepcion, Tarlac, after three decades of agrarian reform struggle.
The DAR’s decision came after a special task force revalidated the list of the 178 farmer-beneficiaries, including all 94 members of MAKISAMA-Tinang, some of whom were among 93 persons arrested during a June 9 tilling activity.
The list of approved names is now displayed at the Concepcion town hall, the Tinang Barangay Hall, and the Makisama-Tinang hut inside Hacienda Tinang, according to the Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
KMP posed photos on its Facebook page, including one with outgoing Mayor Andy Lacson congratulating the farmers.
The KMP also urged the dropping of “baseless” malicious mischief and illegal assembly charges against 83 of those arrested, including supporters of the farmer-beneficiaries.
“We repeat: Supporting farmers is not a crime. Contrary to this, we have witnessed how the outpouring of public support has advanced the Tinang farmers’ plight,” the KMP said.
The KMP said it expects the installation of the farmer-beneficiaries to immediately follow. But it urged the farmers to remain vigilant, as other claimants could still push to deprive the beneficiaries of their land.
Complaints by Concepcion Mayor-elect Noel Villanueva, outgoing Tarlac representative, and the Tinang Multi-Purpose Cooperative prompted the June 9 arrest. The official and his relatives are members of the cooperative, which said those arrested were digging up standing sugarcane crop. The cooperative had asked the DAR to reevaluate the beneficiaries.
Here’s a timeline of recent events involving the farmers of Hacienda Tinang:
Police release four minors on the same day.
On June 10, they release eight more of those arrested – five foreigners and three artists – because prosecutors could not establish probable cause to file complaints against them.
On June 11, police file malicious mischief and illegal assembly complaints against the Tarlac farmers and their supporters.
On June 12, Independence Day, 83 people – including farmers, land reform advocates, artists, and journalists – are finally freed at 5:12 pm, after three days in detention. According to lawyer Lawyer Jobert Pahilga of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, the final bail amount totaled P1.2 million, with the amount for each individual lowered to P13,500, plus a processing fee of P1,000 per person.
On June 13, DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz pledges to help the farmers and hasten the revalidation process requested by the legislator and the cooperative.
On June 17, while in court for their arraignment, the Tinang 83 learn that Tarlac police have filed more complaints: for disobedience and resistance to authority, obstruction of justice, and usurpation of real rights. Arraignment for the cases will be on June 29.