The Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) strongly denounces the illegal arrest and detention by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Hacienda Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac of 92 farmers and advocates for genuine agrarian reform yesterday, June 9, 2022.
According to reports from the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the PNP will file cases of obstruction of justice and malicious mischief against the arrested farmers and their supporters.
Looking at the history of the land struggle over the disputed 200 hectares land in Hacienda Tinang, it should be the officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and officials of the cooperative, including incoming Mayor Noel Villanueva, who should be charged with obstruction of justice for keeping the lands from being rightfully owned by the legitimate owners.
The arrested farmers are among the 236 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) awarded lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in September 26, 1995. The DAR then issued a collective certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) to the 236 ARBs.
But instead of installing the 236 ARBs, UMA reported that the DAR turned over the 200 hectares land to Tinang Samahang Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative Incorporation (Tinang SNMCI) controlled by the powerful political family of former Congressman and now incoming Mayor Noel Villanueva.
The 236 legitimate ARBs found out about the CLOA only in 2016. Officials of the cooperatives had then started asking the ARBs if they are interested in selling their parcels of land covered by the CLOA. Thus, the ARBs led by MAKISAMA-Tinang demanded the DAR to officially install them.
The DAR finally issued a writ of execution and ordered the distribution and installation of the 236 ARBs only in 2018 and 2019.
About 94 ARBs of the original 236 ARBs started claiming the land denied them for 27 years. In February 2022, they started their land occupation or “bungkalan” and planting mung beans on two hectares of land.
Yesterday, MAKISAMA-Tinang was joined by agrarian reform advocates as they sought to expand their bungkalan to another three hectares. They meant to plant palay in place of the standing non-food crop sugarcane. The 94 ARBs were asserting their right to the lands, having been officially given the go signal by the DAR national office to claim their awarded lands, but they were violently dispersed and arrested by the local PNP.
Portions of the 200-hectares land in question have already been illegally converted into residential areas in the absence of a land conversion order, according to UMA.
This incident in Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac shows how social justice remains elusive for millions of landless farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples. The struggle of farmers and farmworkers for land, the abject poverty they are driven into, and against unjust production relations sparked various peasant uprisings against the Spanish colonization that culminated into the national revolution for independence.
Landlessness, widespread poverty, the monopoly by local landlords, real estate developers, big local and foreign agribusiness over large farms and landholdings, and state repression contribute to the continuing revolutions in the Philippine countryside. Only through upholding social justice and prioritizing people’s welfare over private profit and vested interests can the country start the path to peace and truly building an independent nation towards an ecologically sound industrialized economy.#eof#