By EMILY VITAL
CAPAS, Tarlac — Tinang farmers and supporters maintained they are not criminals during their arraignment for charges of illegal assembly and malicious mischief this morning, June 17, at the Capas Municipal Trial Court.
Eighty-three farmers, advocates and journalists were arrested June 9 while farmers were holding a land cultivation activity within the 200-hectare disputed land in Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac. This morning too, the Tarlac City prosecutor issued a subpoena against the 83 for fresh complaints of disobedience of a person in authority, obstruction of justice and usurpation of real rights.
Felino Cunanan Jr. of Makisama Tinang told Bulatlat they are only asserting their right to the land already awarded to them in 1995.
“For 27 years, we have been deprived of our right to till the land. Why is it that we are the ones being treated as criminals here?” Cunanan retorted in Filipino.
The Tinang SN. Multi-purpose Cooperative Inc.established by the Villanueva family has been in control of the land. In April 2021, the cooperative managed by the Villanuevas filed a petition seeking to nullify and stop the implementation of Department of Agrarian Reform’s order to distribute the land to 236 agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Makisama Tinang has been urging DAR to resolve the agrarian dispute immediately. Cunanan said, “DAR employees told us our enemy is powerful.”
Noel Villanueva has been elected mayor of Concepcion town.
Jocelyn Clemente, one of the legal counsels of the farmers and advocates, said they are asking the court to wait for the resolution of the agrarian dispute before proceeding to trial.