Child abuse, trafficking raps filed vs ‘Tinang 83’ leaders | Inquirer News
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Child abuse, trafficking raps filed vs ‘Tinang 83’ leaders

/ 05:00 AM June 23, 2022
The Tarlac farmers called Tinang 83. STORY: Child abuse, trafficking raps filed vs ‘Tinang 83’ leaders

The 83 farmers, land reform advocates and their supporters gather outside a court in Capas, Tarlac, before their arraignment for the illegal assembly and malicious mischief charges filed by a cooperative for allegedly destroying a portion a 200-hectare sugarcane plantation in Barangay Tinang, Concepcion town. (Photo courtesy of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan)

MABALACAT CITY—The police in Concepcion, Tarlac, and three parents have filed complaints for child exploitation and human trafficking against nine people who allegedly led the “bungkalan” (community planting activity) in a disputed property in the town’s Tinang village on June 9.

Police Col. Erwin Sanque, Tarlac police director, told the Inquirer on Tuesday that Staff Sgt. Ma. Claire Mariano of the Concepcion police’s Women and Children Protection Desk filed the complaints in the provincial prosecutor’s office on June 17.

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Facing child exploitation complaints were Pia Montalban of Karapatan Gitnang Luzon, Joyce Ann Neponcio Godo of Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luson, Allan Bonifacio of Workers Alliance Region 3, and Maria Donna Miranda of Gabriela and Artists Alliance for Genuine Agrarian Reform.

Also named respondents were Joseph Benedict Cinco, who writes for Tarlac State University’s student publication; Ronaldo de Leon of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura; Lucky Virgo Joyce Tinio; Denisse Macalino; and Angelo Suarez.

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In a sworn affidavit filed on June 17, Mariano said five children, between 11 and 15 years old, were among those who were rounded up at Hacienda Tinang on June 9.

Deceived?

The activity’s organizers had reportedly told the children that they would be given jobs at the farm, Mariano said, citing her interviews with the minors.

She said lawyer Jobert Pahilga, legal counsel for the arrested farmers and their supporters, collectively known as the “Tinang 83,” had asked for the immediate release and turnover of the five children, which the Concepcion police granted.

Mariano alleged that the minors were “used and deceived” by the organizers to join the bungkalan.

Six of those facing child exploitation complaints were also facing separate complaints for human trafficking.

The children’s parents, in their sworn affidavits, said their children did not know what would happen in Tinang when they decided to go there to join other students and researchers.

At least 30 college students from different universities and seven researchers were among those arrested by policemen and soldiers at Tinang for alleged destruction of planted sugarcane in the disputed farmland.

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They were charged with illegal assembly and malicious mischief and were also facing complaints for disobedience, obstruction of justice and usurpation of real rights.

‘Harassment’

The 200-hectare property is at the center of a land dispute between a farmers’ cooperative and agrarian reform beneficiaries belonging to Malayang Kilusang Samaha ng Magsasaka ng Tinang (Makisama Tinang).

Tarlac-based lawyer Jo Clemente of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers and cocounsel for “Tinang 83” said they had yet to receive a copy of the new complaints.

Pahilga described the new charges as baseless, saying, “There is absolutely no factual or legal basis for the cases. It’s pure harassment. “

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More complaints filed vs ‘Tinang 83’

3 more raps filed vs ‘Tinang 83’ over land dispute in Tarlac

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