The farmers of Tinang in Tarlac province declared partial victory in their struggle to be recognized as legitimate beneficiaries as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) again declared their eligibility for installation last Wednesday.
The Malayang Kilusang Samahang Magsasaka ng Tinang (MAKISAMA-Tinang) announced they finallt received a document signed by DAR secretary Conrado Estrella III ordering the segregation of 62.4 hectare for distribution among beneficiaries, including members of their group.
Promised land under the government’s agrarian reform programs since 1995, the farmers have been continuously blocked from full ownership of the land by groups they describe as fake beneficiaries as well as the police, military and local politicians such as Concepcion town mayor Noel Villanueva.
While cultivating the contested land in July 2022, more than a hundred farmers and their supporters were mass arrested by the Concepcion police upon orders of Villanueva.
In the midst of continuing court battles as well as militarization of their communities, MAKISAMA-Tinang has compelled Estrella to review their right to installation as legitimate beneficiaries.
Estrella issued the document last Wednesday after a 45-day review of the farmers’ petition.
“We thank Sec. Estrella for upholding the status of MAKISAMA-Tinang’s members as legitimate farmer-beneficiaries who have suffered the injustice of landlessness long enough,” Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura acting chairperson Ariel Casilao said in a statement.
“We hope DAR expedites the segregation process so the ARBs can finally be installed on their land,” Casilao added.
Casilao also urged DAR to facilitate the dismissal of charges against 83 farmers and supporters hailed to court after their arrest and a stop to the ongoing harassments by the local police, the military and land-grabbers.
MAKISAMA-Tinang said they will plan to produce abundant, safe and nutritious food for their families and community.
They also dedicated their recent victory to their late chairperson Felino Cunanan who died of abdominal aortic aneurysm after suffering harassment from the military last November 6. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)