Drop all charges against the #Tinang83

After four grueling days of unjust detention, the Tinang 83 were released last June 12 and gained temporary independence. We thank everyone who made this victory possible. Every gesture mattered.

However, the baseless charges against the farmers and advocates remain. The installation of the Tinang farmers to the lands awarded to them remains stalled and undone. The quest for justice continues.

We condemn incoming Concepcion Mayor Noel Villanueva as the land grabber and primary culprit behind the unlawful mass arrest last June 9 and the deprivation of land from the Tinang agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The so-called “farmers’ cooperative” is a ploy by the Villanuevas to take over 200 hectares of lands covered by agrarian reform. While the cooperative names farmers as its officers, its majority shareholders are the dynastic Villanuevas. Simply put, the Villanuevas are using poor farmers against poor farmers to advance its landlord interests. The Villanuevas are set to gain the most from the continuing harassment of the Tinang farmers and their supporters.

Noel Villanueva also wields great political power as outgoing Congressman and incoming Mayor. He is capable of exerting influence over acting PNP Concepcion Chief Reynold Macabitas and officer-in-charge Provincial Prosecutor Mae Montefalco. The two abused their positions and disregarded police protocols and due process in dealing with the Tinang farmers and their supporters.In contrast, we commend the Capaz Municipal Trial Court’s (MTC) independence from Villanueva’s machinations.

The NTF ELCAC meanwhile tries to muddle the issue with its routinary red-tagging. They are not relevant to this incident and do not deserve the attention they desperately seek.

We demand that Noel Villanueva stop his illegal land grabbing schemes and respect the Tinang farmers’ lawful right to land. In line with this, we urge the Department of Agrarian Reform to urgently install the Tinang farmers.

The Tinang 83 is scheduled for arraignment this June 17 in the Capaz MTC. We hope for the dismissal of the baseless charges against them.

We insist: Planting food is not a crime and supporting farmers is not a criminal act! #

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