By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “Sowing food and supporting farmers is not wrong, and the right to assemble is guaranteed by the highest law in the land.
This is the statement of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas as those arrested at Hacienda Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac were formally charged with unlawful assembly and malicious mischief.
Based on a resolution obtained by Bulatlat, Provincial Prosecutor in Charge Mila Mae G. Montefalco-Ikeshita recommended bail of 36,000 pesos ($679) for the unlawful assembly charge and 3,000 pesos ($57) for malicious mischief.
The resolution states that the accused “destroyed the plants on the land cultivated and managed by the Tinang Samahan Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative on behalf of its members”.
To occupy the land, the resolution reads, farmers must remove existing plants. This apparently showed intent to deliberately destroy the plants, resulting in a malicious crime of mischief.
For unlawful assembly, Ikeshita claimed that “the meeting attended by respondents who are armed and prepared to resist any force that will prevent them from doing what they are doing”.
Meanwhile, eight individuals had already been released by the police on June 10.
The KMP demanded the immediate release and the dropping of charges against the 83 people remaining in prison, including two journalists, nine student journalists and land reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Tinang.
Meanwhile, various groups have appealed for donations to cover the 3.2 million peso ($60,322) bail for those who remain in jail.
On Thursday June 9, the more than 90 individuals were violently arrested by the police while they practiced bungkalan or collective breeding.
The farmers of Hacienda Tinang appealed to the Land Reform Department to settle the 236 land reform beneficiaries who are all holders of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA). (JJE)