Central Luzon

The long wait is over: Tinang farmers get land after 3 decades

Joann Manabat

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The long wait is over: Tinang farmers get land after 3 decades

EMOTIONAL END. After a decades-long wait, the 93 members of MAKISAMA-Tinang have been installed by the DAR to their 68.1 hectare parcel in Concepcion, Tarlac on May 9.

Joann Manabat/Rappler

MAKISAMA-Tinang legal counsel Jobert Pahilga says there are other challenges to complete the installation process, such as irrigation issues and the standing sugarcane crops

TARLAC, Philippines – After a three decade-long battle over land rights, 93 members of the Malayang Kilusang Samahang Magsasaka ng Tinang (MAKISAMA-Tinang) have been installed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to their 68.1-hectare parcel of land in Concepcion, Tarlac, on Wednesday, May 8.

The long wait is over: Tinang farmers get land after 3 decades

The parcel of land comprises 62.45 hectares for the MAKISAMA-Tinang members and 5.69 hectares for farm supervisors of the Dominican Province of the Philippines Inc. (DPPI). In 1991, DPPI offered the 200-hectare Hacienda Tinang under a voluntary offer-to-sell model.

The installation marked an emotional ending to MAKISAMA-Tinang’s decades-long fight.

According to the DAR, the collective installation of the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) is a testament to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and the MAKISAMA-Tinang’s determination to achieve the rights to their land.

The DAR said the ARBs were given a transfer certificate of title as their proof of ownership, rights to tillage and raise animals, and rights to support services, such as access to loans, technical assistance, and infrastructure growth.

DAR Central Luzon Regional Director James Arsenio Ponce also revealed that MAKISAMA-Tinang has been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to establish the organization and for it to be able to legally conduct business activities.

Duly registered na rin sa SEC ang MAKISAMA-Tinang, at may kaakibat itong mga responsibilidad. Hindi na luha kundi pawis na ang makikita namin,” said Ponce.

(MAKISAMA-Tinang is now duly registered with the SEC, and this comes with responsibilities. We won’t see any more tears but rather sweat.)

EMOTIONAL. The installation marks an emotional ending to their decades-long fight. Photo by Joann Manabat/Rappler

The installation was initially set on April 11. However, the DAR’s Provincial Agrarian Reform Office deferred the installation to complete its operational requirements and other matters necessary in the installation.

MAKISAMA-Tinang spokesperson Abby Bucad never lost hope and always believed that they would be installed. Bucad said they offer their installation to their former chair, Felino Cunanan, who died in November 2022.

New challenges

MAKISAMA-Tinang legal counsel Jobert Pahilga said there are other challenges to complete the installation process, such as irrigation issues and the standing sugarcane crops. Pahilga said they will send a letter to the DAR’s central, regional, and provincial offices to resolve the situation on the standing crops.

Standing crops are the remaining crops planted by other farmers prior to the transfer of the land to a new owner.

Baseball Cap, Cap, Clothing
RED. The members of MAKISAMA-Tinang wear red shirts. Photo by Joann Manabat/Rappler

According to Bucad, six water pumps have been uninstalled prior to the installation, while the harvest of the standing sugarcane is still in December.

“They are planters in bad faith because they know that this land is already for installation and yet they keep planting,” said Pahilga.

“Masaya ku talaga kasi at the long run ning pakikibaka mi, at least ing DAR binye ne kekami na ila mismu ing memiye. Pero on the other hand kahit na ininstall da na kami, kahit kekami ne ing gabun atin pamu rin prohibitions na bakit ali kami pa rin pwedeng mananam, bakit atin pang pisasabyan? Actually ali ku balu talaga ing sitwasyun da retang standing crops na pisasabyan uling dapat ali na kami manaya pa,” Bucad added.

(I am really happy because in the long run of our struggle, at least it was the DAR who gave this to us. But on the other hand, even if they have installed us, even if this land is ours, there are still prohibitions as to why we cannot plant yet. Why is this still being discussed? Actually, I don’t know about the situation of those standing crops because we are not supposed to wait anymore.)

Land dispute

In June 2022, a cultivation activity led to a violent dispersal of the farmers group together with peasant advocates, artists, and journalists. They were charged with illegal assembly and malicious mischief, charges that were junked by the Capas 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court that same month.

Two weeks later, the DAR affirmed 178 ARBs as rightful owners of the 200-hectare CARP block.

FINALLY. A portion of the 68.1-hectare land awarded by the DAR to members of MAKISAMA-Tinang. Photo by Joann Manabat/Rappler

On July 6, 2022, the first deferment of installation happened, with some 58 ARBs awaiting to complete validation requirements.

The delay, according to Cunanan, stemmed from Concepcion Mayor Noel Villanueva lobbying for an increase in the number of beneficiaries. Cunanan died on November 6, 2022, a day after a military officer in plainclothes visited the MAKISAMA-Tinang to ask about their links to groups allegedly affiliated with the New People’s Army.

In February 2023, MAKISAMA-Tinang members lamented the third revalidation attempt. They had been calling on the DAR to expedite their installation as tensions had continued to escalate year after year. – Rappler.com

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