REFERENCE: Ranmil Echanis, Deputy Sec-Gen, UMA
Tel. (02) 799-2009
VIOLATION: ILLEGAL ARREST & DETENTION
Date of Incident: APRIL, 3, 2014, AROUND 12 NOON
Place of Incident: BARANGAY, MAPALACSIAO, HACIENDA LUISITA, TARLAC CITY
- George Gatus
- Gerry Catalan
- Jaime Quiambao
- Alvin Gratil
- Leoncio Suarez
- Tarlac PNP led by SPO3 DELA CRUZ of Mapalacsiao Police Community Precinct and Police superintendent FELIX BERVO;
- Cojuangco-Aquino through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and FF Cruz firm
Farmer Jaime Quiambao and his four companions George Gatus, Gerry Catalan, Alvin Gratil and Leoncio Suarez were resting near their farm lots in Mapalacsiao village when they saw more or less ten men placing markers on the land. Farmers tried to approach them to know what the men were doing on the farm lots. Quiambao said that when they approached two of the men, they ran away. All five farmers belong to AMBALA, the farmworkers’ alliance fighting for land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.
A few minutes after, policemen arrived in two mobile vehicles and nabbed the five farmers. Police superintendent Felix Bervo reportedly ordered the arrest. AMBALA members also mentioned SPO3 dela Cruz, commander of the community police precinct in Mapalacsiao as one of those who led the arrest. The five farmers were taken to Camp Macabulos, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Headquarters in Tarlac City. Police did not inform the farmers the reason for their arrest.
At around 3:30 p.m, Ranmil Echanis, deputy secretary-general of the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma), called up Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) chief Ileona Pangilinan to report the arbitrary arrest possibly involving DAR personnel. Pangilinan said she would send someone from their legal affairs to go to Camp Macabulos to verify the report and help release the farmers if possible.
Past 4 pm, the farmers were brought to the Tarlac City Regional Trial Court for inquest proceedings. UMA was then informed that it was the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) itself which filed charges against the farmers. A certain Tristy Figueroa of the FF Cruz Co, Inc., a firm hired by the DAR to place the markers on Hacienda Luisita land, filed the complaint against them. Farmers were reportedly charged with violation of RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
Quiambao reportedly asked Figueroa if she saw them destroying DAR markers (muhon) as alleged by their men. Figueroa said she did not. Then Quiambao asked her why she is suing the farmers for something that they did not commit, but Figueroa did not say a word. The farmers refused to sign any document.
Farmers said that no one from the PARO visited them as of 6 pm.
AMBALA earlier urged the Supreme Court to cite the DAR in contempt for aiding the Cojuangco-Aquino family retain control of Hacienda Luisita. #