'Tinang 83' eyes administrative case vs prosecutor, police

'Tinang 83' eyes administrative case vs prosecutor, police
Photo shows the 87 farmers and peasant advocates arrested and charged with obstruction of justice being held at Concepcion Police Station in Tarlac.
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MANILA, Philippines — The counsel of the farmers, activists, and supporters nabbed during a land cultivation activity said they are planning to file an administrative case over the said unjust treatment when they were arrested and during their detention.

“Napagusapan po ng mga kliyente namin na magsasampa din kami ng administrative case against dun sa prosecutor and the police,” Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo lawyer Jobert Pahilga told ABS-CBN News’ “Kabayan” on Tuesday. 

(Our clients and I have discussed and we plan on filing an administrative case against the prosecutor and the police.) 

To recall, over 80 individuals were arrested without warrant by authorities earlier this month while they were doing “bungkalan” or land cultivation work with farmers who have already been issued their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA).  

Along with Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, among those arrested were students, activists, and members of the media.

READ: Farmers, activists arrested in Tarlac 'bungkalan' set to undergo inquest proceedings 

Prosecutor may be held to account

Pahilga said they noted grave misconduct on the part of the prosecutor during the inquest proceedings. He said they were not even given a copy of the complaint while the proceedings were ongoing, so they did not know the cases they were facing.

"The way she asked questions sa aming mga kliyente ay hindi para alamin kung ano ‘yung katotohanan, kundi idiin ‘yung aking mga kliente," he said.

(The way she asked our clients questions, it did not sound like she was asking them to know more about what truly happened but it sounded like she wanted to pin the blame on my clients.)

The Capas Municipal Trial Court already cleared the 83 charged with illegal assembly over the lack of essential facts and malicious mischief after the court also emphasized that it did not have jurisdiction over cases involving agrarian dispute.  

READ: 'Tinang 83' cleared of malicious mischief, illegal assembly charges 

The order, which was signed by Presiding Judge Antonio Pangan, said that the case involving malicious mischief should be referred to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). 

Pahilga said they already raised this to the prosecutor beforehand because the farmers were already awarded with their CLOA.

"Sinasabi namin na i-refer ‘yung case sa DAR because jurisdiction ‘yan ng DAR… ang sabi niya alam niya daw yung agrarian dispute so sa tingin namin ay merong pananagutan din ‘yung prosecutor sa nangyari," he said.

(We have been saying that the case should be referred to the DAR because that is under their jurisdiction… but she said, she knows about the agrarian dispute so we think that the prosecutor may also be accountable to what happened.)

Rights violations

Meanwhile, they are also planning to file rights violations against the police for reportedly violating the rights of some individuals who were arrested without warrant.

“‘Nung kinulong sila, hindi man lang sila pina-medical… inilagay sila dun sa isang masikip na selda… during the time na nasa kulungan po sila ay patuloy yung pagtatanong ng mga police sa kanila even without the presence of counsel and in fact, I objected to that,” Pahilga said.

(When they were arrested, they did not even undergo medical examination… they were already put in small detention cells… during the time that they were detained, the police continued to interrogate them even without the presence of counsel and in fact, I objected to that.)

Aside from the two charges, the 83 will be facing five more cases filed by the police against them. This includes usurpation, obstruction of justice, usurpation of real rights over property, resistance, and disobedience. 

READ: Police file more complaints vs ‘Tinang 83’ 

Two charges were recently made against them — exploitation of minor and human trafficking — but Pahilga maintained that no one was forced to go to the land cultivation activity.

Some were either children of those who went, while the others were students in an immersion activity. — Kaycee Valmonte with reports from Franco Luna and Xave Gregorio

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