Resist intensifying fascism in the Philippines, drop all charges against the Tinang 83!

Resist intensifying fascism in the Philippines, drop all charges against the Tinang 83!

July 1, 2022
Signatures: 2,702Next Goal: 5,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Justice Tinang

We, the undersigned, demand for the immediate dismissal of the trumped-up charges against Tinang 83.

On June 9, 83 peasants and peasant advocates were unlawfully arrested for attending a land cultivation activity in Tinang, a village in the town of Concepcion, Tarlac in Central Luzon, Philippines. Majority of the 83 were artists, journalists, researchers, students, and other cultural workers lending their solidarity to the agrarian reform beneficiaries of Malayang Kilusang Samahan ng Tinang (MAKISAMA-Tinang), a local farmers’ organization. Thirteen of those arrested with them were farmers and their kin.

Landlessness extended

In 1995, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) awarded 200 hectares of Tinang’s farmlands to 236 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). However, the document granting them the land was intercepted by dynastic Concepcion bureaucrats Noel and Vernon Villanueva. They built a cooperative that seized control of this land and turned it into a sugarcane plantation for their family’s private gain. The ARBs only learned of the deception in 2016, and have since lobbied for their overdue installation on land owed them by the state.

As a result of dialogues with DAR, MAKISAMA-Tinang obtained a finality of order in 2018 and writ of execution in 2019, attesting to their legitimacy as rightful owners of the land. However, government inaction has delayed their installation further. While farmers were going hungry during the pandemic, the land continued to be planted to sugarcane, benefitting only its landgrabbers, the Villanuevas. The farmers saw it urgent to assert their right to till the land already guaranteed to them by the state in order to grow food staples.  

Compassion criminalized

At the land cultivation effort, state forces arrived bearing long arms, rounding up advocates and peasants up with no legal basis. Police forces blanketly accused them of being members of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (NPA), both ajudged terrorist organizations by the Philippine government. All of Tinang 83 were detained for four days at the Concepcion police precinct, and spent the last night held in over-cramped jail cells with their health, sanity and dignity at risk. 29 of the 83 were held in the cell for men, joining 33 inmates in a space meant for 10; 22 were held in the smaller cell for women, joining 5 inmates in a space meant for even less.

While the charges for malicious mischief and illegal assembly have been dismissed by the Capas Municipal Trial Court for lack of factual and legal basis, Tinang83’s battle for justice is far from over. They continue to face trumped up charges for: (1) obstruction of justice, (2) usurpation of real rights in property, and (3) disobedience to authority for allegedly resisting arrest.  Nine of the 83, whom the police flagged as "leaders," have been charged with two more offenses: human trafficking and child exploitation. 

Villanueva is using the Tarlac PNP and Provincial Prosecutors’ office to intimidate and violate peasant advocates’ constitutional rights to assembly, organization and speech. Moreover, state forces are using judicial measures to discredit the rightful claim of Tinang ARBs. In effect, they have outlawed striving for food security, and criminalized the compassion that comes with solidarity.

Calls to action

We appeal to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to

  • Hasten their investigation into the Tarlac police's abuse of power in its unlawful arrest and baseless detention of the Tinang 83;
  • Reproach state agents and bureaucrats for redtagging civilians, thereby posing a threat to their life and liberty.

We call on Tarlac police to

  • Withdraw all charges against the Tinang 83;
  • Back off from an agrarian dispute outside of the PNP’s jurisdiction;
  • Respect the rule of law.

We urge DAR to

  • Install the ARBs on their land in Tinang immediately;
  • Call out the PNP out for their violation of the joint DAR-DILG-DND joint Circular #05 that bars police intervention in an agrarian dispute without the authority of DAR or its adjudicators;
  • Hold Noel Villanueva accountable for his 27-year deception of Tinang ARBs.

We request the courts to

  • Maintain their objectivity in consideration of the long-drawn plight of the poor and oppressed;
  • Acknowledge the DAR’s jurisdiction over the remaining charges in light of the ongoing agrarian dispute in Tinang;
  • Dismiss all charges against the Tinang 83.

We, the undersigned, uphold the correctness of collective land cultivation as a practical response to hunger foisted on farmers by landlessness. We condemn the paranoid reaction by the state, particularly by Mayor-elect Noel Villanueva and the police, for its fear-mongering and abuse of power. We denounce the involvement of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for redtagging the Tinang 83, and propagating the conspiracy theory that MAKISAMA-Tinang supporters were agents of the CPP-NPA organizing peasants in the countryside in order to embarrass President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. during his inauguration.

A peasant community’s yearning to feed itself is noble, and should not be met with fascism. We should be concerned about this largest mass arrest in our recent history. 

Stand up for peasants. Stand up for our constitutional rights. Support Tinang 83. DROP ALL CHARGES. 


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Signatures: 2,702Next Goal: 5,000
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