Days before their “installation” as genuine agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), officers and members of the Malayang Kilusang Samahang Magsasaka ng Tinang (MAKISAMA-Tinang) received threats and have been red-tagged anew.
The leader of the farmer’s group involved in a land struggle in Tarlac Province received threats from an employee of a local politician a week before the anniversary of their mass arrest, a police blotter showed.
A June 4 blotter at the Concepcion (Tarlac) police station stated that a certain Conrado “Jonjon” Magtoto reportedly threateningly said MAKISAMA-Tinang chairperson Alvin Dimarucut must be on the lookout for his safety.
Magtoto was driving a tractor in behalf of the family of Concepcion mayor Noel Villanueva at a disputed portion of Hacienda Tinang at about 2:30in the afternoon of Saturday, June 3, when he uttered the threat.
The farm hand noticed a certain Ma. Roche Castro taking videos of MAKISAMA-Tinang’s newly-planted pepper crops when he asked her under whose group she belonged. Magtoto accused Castro of taking videos of him.
“Are you with Alvin? You can tell him he must be ready,” Magtoto reportedly said.
In an interview with Altermidya last Monday, June 5, Dimarucut said that while he considers Magtoto’s words threatening, he is “not afraid of the many threats he has received.”
MAKISAMA-Tinang nonetheless filed a report at the police station where they were jailed for several days.
In February 18, 2022, Dimarucut and comrades also filed a police report against Magtoto who drove a tractor over the disputed property despite the issuance of a February 4, 2022 Cease and Desist Order by DAR-Region III director Homer Tobias.
Kodao sources said Magtoto is under the employ of the Villanuevas even as the disputed 60-hectares of the property awarded by the Department of Agriculture (DAR) to 90 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBS) is also being claimed and occupied by the group called Samahang Nayon Farmers’ Cooperative.
In a March 21, 2023 decision, DAR secretary Conrado Estrella III said 60 hectares of Hacienda Tinang must be returned to 90 ARBS and four farmhands, most of whom are members of MAKISAMA-Tinang.
MAKISAMA-Tinang told Altermidya that they expect their “installation” within the next few days.
The farmers and their supporters were arrested last June 9, 2022 in what is being described as the largest such incident since the end of the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship.
WHAT WENT BEFORE: Scenes at a police parking lot
Farmers face off with police at Ombudsman’s office
Meanwhile, MAKISAMA-Tinang members faced off with their police captors in the mass arrest incident at the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City today, June 6.
The “clarificatory hearing” was in relation to the charges filed by the farmers against 30 Concepcion police personnel, including then officer in charge PLt. Col. Reynaldo Macabitas.
The farmers’ charges include:
—Violation of Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained and Under Custodial Investigation
—Physical and Mental/Psychological Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
—Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service, and Oppression
—Gender-based Sexual Harassment in a Public Place
MAKISAMA-Tinang farmers revealed the police officials in attendance responded to questions asked them in “wishy-washy” way.
The police’s oral statements often contradicted the written affidavits they submitted to the Ombudsman, the farmers said.
“Farmers and peasant advocates alike were especially taken aback by the brashness of the red-tagging committed by P/Lt. Col. Macabitas in front of the hearing officer herself, hinting at military involvement,” the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura in a statement after the hearing said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)