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Police arrest farmers in Concepcion, Tarlac

Police say those arrested are now under their custody at the Concepcion municipal police station

MANILA, Philippines – The police arrested over eighty individuals, including farmers and their supporters, in Concepcion town Tarlac province on Thursday, June 9. 

According to peasants group Amihan, the farmers and their supporters were holding a cultivation activity at Hacienda Tinang when they were arrested by the police. The group said some of the arrested were farmers who were beneficiaries of agrarian reform program in the area.

Tinangka ng mga magsasaka na bungkalin ang lupa na siya namang hinaras ng mga pulis, at sa kasalukuyan ay pinapalibutan sila ng mga armadong puwersa (The farmers were trying to dig up the lands when they were harassed by the police. Armed forces circled around them),” Anakpawis, a progressive group advocating for farmers’ rights and other marginalized sectors, said earlier on Thursday.

The arrests were confirmed by the Concepcion municipal police in a phone interview. The local police added that the arrested were now under their custody. 

Another group, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said a total of 85 individuals from the ranks of farmers and their supporters were arrested. According to UMA, complaints for malicious mischief and obstruction of justice would be possibly filed against the arrested.

As of 9 pm on Thursday, UMA said the mug shots of the detained were being processed at the police station.

Among those arrested was the child of celebrity wedding videographer Jason Magbanua. According to Magbanua, his child was in the area only to help the farmers.

Sa mga kapulisan diyan sa Concepcion, Tarlac, pag ingatan ninyo po mga detainees ninyo. Ilan po riyan ay estudyante pa. Dumalaw ’yan sa Tarlac na walang ibang balak kundi magbungkal ng lupa at tumulong sa magsasaka. Kabilang diyan ang panganay kong anak,” Jason wrote in his Facebook account.

(To the police in Concepcion, Tarlac, please take care of your detainees. Some of them are students. They visited Tarlac without any reason but to cultivate lands and help farmers. My eldest child is among them.)

Anakpawis said the the farmers were recipients of a 200-hectare land at Hacienda Tinang. The group added that in 2018, the Department of Agrarian Reform decided to install the farmers as legitimate recipients, but the decision was never enforced, said Anakpawis. 

Under the administration of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, farmers have also become victims of arrests.

In March last year, at least three red-tagged peasant leaders were arrested in simultaneous operations in Central Luzon during the Holy Week in 2021. In July the same year, four farmers in Mindoro were also arrested for alleged violation of the draconian anti-terror law. –