Tinang 83 files charges vs. ‘cruel and inhumane’ police

Tinang 83 farmers and supporters filed six charges against the Concepcion (Tarlac) Philippine National Police (PNP) at the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, July 26, in connection with their violent mass arrest last June 9.

The farmers and their supporters filed Violation of Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, and Under Custodial Investigation; Perjury; Unlawful Arrest; Arbitrary Detention; Physical and Mental/Psychological Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Grave and Serious Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service; and Grave Abuse of Authority and Oppression against the police.

At least 30 personnel of the Concepcion PNP, led by Lt. Col. Reynold Macabitas, were named respondents.

The complainants asked the Ombudsman to remove the policemen from service and issue a preventive suspension against them while the investigation is ongoing.

The charges the farmers filed is in response to what they say was very cruel treatment they suffered on their arrest, four-day imprisonment in crowded and humid jail cells and at the police head-quarter’s parking lot, and the seven of charges filed against them in quick succession by the police in collaboration with the Tarlac Provincial Prosecutors’ Office.

On July 7, several members of the Tinang 83 filed administrative complaints against Tarlac Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Mila Mae Montefalco before the Department of Justice for grave and serious misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and procedure, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Tinang 83 members and lawyers trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman to file six complaints against the Concepcion PNP. (UMA photo)


The police charged the farmers and land rights advocates a total of seven criminal complaints after the arrests, including malicious mischief, illegal assembly, obstruction of justice, disobedience to authority, usurpation of real rights in property, human trafficking and child exploitation charges.

They were conducting a land cultivation activity when mass arrested by the police.

The Department of Agrarian Reform later released a list that named the farmers as legitimate beneficiaries of the property known as Hacienda Tinang.

The Capas Municipal Trial Court has dismissed the illegal assembly and malicious mischief charges against the farmers.

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura said the counter charges against the police are “just, urgent, and true—the opposite of those filed by the police against the Tinang 83 upon being prodded by Mayor and land-grabber Noel Villanueva.”

Villanueva, then congressman and Concepcion mayor-elect, was present during the incident and was seen to have ordered the police to arrest the farmers and their supporters.

An Office of the Ombudsman personnel receives copies of the Tinang 83 complaints against the police. (UMA photo)


UMA chairperson John Milton ‘Ka Butch’ Lozande said in the statement that holding “Villanueva and his lackeys” accountable is timely and deserved.

Lozande said that government officials like Villanueva treat the police and the military like their private army, bending the law to serve their own profiteering interests.”

 “This is an important wake-up call to bureaucrats and the people at large, alerting them to that fact that CARP (comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program)has repeatedly failed farmers, and its failure has benefitted no one but land-grabbers,” Lozande said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Land rights champions face more charges from Tarlac prosecutors

Government prosecutors are not letting up on Hacienda Tinang farmers and their supporters, charging them with another criminal complaint in Tarlac City on Wednesday.

While appearing at a preliminary investigation for human trafficking charges connected with their violent dispersal and arrest by the Concepcion, Tarlac police last June 9, government prosecutors bared that nine of the defendants are also facing child exploitation charges.

“In today’s preliminary investigation in Tarlac, we received a copy of the records of the new trumped up charge of child exploitation against the artists, journalist and peasant rights advocates who were illegally arrested, along with the agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Tinang during the conduct of their peaceful ceremonial bungkalan of the land that rightfully belongs to them,” their lawyer Kathy Panguban said.

The latest complaint apparently stems from reports that several minors were present during the arrest and were among those hauled to the Concepcion municipal police station on the day of the incident.

The minors, reportedly children of the supporters present that day, were released to relatives and guardians within hours of the mass arrest.

Nine of the 83 were charged with the latest criminal complaint.

The new charge brings to seven the total number of complaints filed against them by the Tarlac Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, including alleged malicious mischief, illegal assembly, obstruction of justice, disobedience to authority, usurpation of real rights in property and human trafficking.

The Capas (Tarlac) Municipal Trial Court has already dismissed the malicious mischief and illegal assembly charges against all of the 83 farmers and supporters arrested and jailed for four days.

The Department of Agrarian Reform has also finally released its list of legitimate Hacienda Tinang land beneficiaries, including all members of the members of Malayang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka ng Tinang (Makisama-Tinang) arrested on June 9.

“It pains to see how the justice system is being weaponized against what is right and just for the farmers who had long been deprived of the enjoyment of their property. Even those who support their legitimate calls are now being dragged to answer such fabricated criminal charges,” Panguban said.

Fiscal asked to inhibit

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said in a separate statement that Wednesday’s preliminary investigation did not proceed pending the resolution of an earlier motion that the entire Tarlac Provincial Prosecutor’s Office inhibit itself from conducting the human trafficking compliant it filed against six of the defendants.

A similar motion was filed last July 8 by all of the 83 defendants pertaining to the conduct of the preliminary investigation into the charges of disobedience to authority, obstruction of justice, and usurpation of real rights in property.

The defendants also asked the courts for a transfer of venue of the investigations, expressing concern about the perceived influence Concepcion mayor Noel Villanueva over the proceedings.

Villanueva, then District Representative, was present during the arrest of the defendants and was recorded to have ordered the police to round up the farmers and their supporters who were having lunch at the time.

It was while waiting for the resolution of their motion to inhibit last Wednesday did Prosecutor Mila Mae Montefalco-Ikeshita bared the “never-before-seen official complaint” for the charge of child exploitation, UMA said in its statement.

The complaint had been filed by Concepcion police against nine peasant advocates, including the six facing accusations of human trafficking.

Five of those charged who agreed to be identified in this report are Donna Miranda, Angelo Suarez, Pia Montalban, Joyce Godoy, and Allan Bonifacio.

Farmers to file complaints themselves

UMA spokesperson John Milton Lozande that the string of charges against the farmers and their supporters is “plain and vulgar judicial harassment.”

“If anyone exploited any children in the case of the Tinang 83, it was the Concepcion police. It was they, after all, who violently accosted farmers and supporters in an illegal mass arrest in Tinang last June 9, stirring fear among minors present, then redtagged them to justify the round-up,” Lozande said.

Lozande also revealed that members of the Tinang 83 will themselves file administrative cases against the Concepcion police, particularly its officer-in-charge Lt. Col. Reynold Macabitas, at the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City on Monday, July 25.

Lozande’s group said their complaint will be the first in a series that the police may expect from them. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)