CHR probing 'Tinang 91' arrest

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2022 05:03 PM

MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Tuesday that it is now investigating the controversial arrest of 91 farmers, land reform advocates, media, and students at Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac.

In a statement, CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann De Guia said that the arrest of the "Tinang 91" was allegedly "arbitrary," and was done after they held a "bungkalan" or cooperative planting activity at the said hacienda last Thursday.

"Since their detention, there were also allegations of physical and mental abuse, inhumane conditions at the detention facility, and red tagging experienced by the group," De Guia said.

She added that CHR's regional office in Central Luzon has also started gathering information from the arrested farmers and their supporters, the farmers who filed a complaint, and the local police since Friday.

"Local police claim that the apprehended farmers used a rotovator and destroyed the sugarcane plantation owned by other farmers belonging to Agriculture Cooperative. When responding police officers from Police Regional Office III tried to pacify them, the police said that the farmers allegedly became unruly and tried to obstruct the law enforcers from performing their official duties, which lead to the arrest," the commission said.

"However, the farmers—particularly, the seven farmers from the around 90 people arrested—assert that they are legitimate agrarian reform beneficiaries of the land, with a Certificate of Land Ownership Award title issued in 1995 for the 200-hectare disputed land, and are just waiting for their official installation as the decision was never enforced," it added.

CHR also urged the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to look into the matter "to finally ascertain how to move forward given the pending land conflict."

"With clashing claims, we hope our independent investigation can contribute in achieving greater clarity of the issue, a just and equitable resolution, as well as greater respect and protection of the rights of all," the commission added.

The farmers arrested were included in a list of beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). 

Authorities, meanwhile, maintained that there was no human rights abuse committed during the arrest.

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