Tinang farmers file complaint vs. acting Tarlac prosecutor

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) — Some of the arrested farmers from Tarlac on Thursday filed a complaint before the Department of Justice calling for the dimissal of the acting prosecutor of the province.

Felino Cunanan, Magdalena Magtoto, Mirasol Dela Cruz, Myrna Diamzon, Sonny Dimarucut, Annabelle Magana, Erlinda Aboy, Abegail Bucad, and Florinda Callena were the members of the so-called Tinang 83 who lodged the complaint against Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Mila Mae Montefalco.

They were arrested on June 9, along with their supporters who took part in a land cultivation activity related to a land dispute in Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac. They were released on June 12 after posting bail. 

In their 15-page complaint, the farmers cited instances that they consider grave and serious misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and procedure, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

They said Montefalco should also be administratively charged and penalized for committing grave and serious misconduct “when she conducted inquest proceedings in an unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or discriminatory manner”

During the inquest proceedings that occurred in the morning of June 10, a day after they were arrested, the farmers’ attorney Jobert Pahilga asked the prosecutor for a copy of the Complaint-Affidavit of the complainants, which was not provided, the farmers said.

They also claimed that Montefalco asked them questions that show bias, and that she already concluded they are guilty of the crimes charged against them.

Minutes of the inquest proceedings were also not taken, their complaint added.

“Also, her deliberate refusal to refer the cases to the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) and to file Information to the courts against us, when the documentary evidence shown to her the CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership Award) and the DAR issuances including and most especially the Writ of Execution-clearly established an agrarian dispute, betrays her gross and utter disregard of the law and the Rules of Procedure or gross ignorance thereof, showing clear bias in favor of the complainants,” the document said.

READ: DAR list reaffirms Tinang farmers as owners of disputed land — KMP

She is also liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for tainting the image and integrity of the DOJ and failing to do her function as a prosecutor, the complainants alleged.

“That, as such, we pray from the Honorable Office for the removal of Prosecutor Montefalco from being the Acting Provincial Prosecutor of Tarlac and to mete to her the appropriate penalty of DISMISSAL from service as a Public Prosecutor,” the farmers asked.

They also want preventive suspension without pay and benefits for Montefalco.

CNN Philippines requested comment from Montefalco's office but has yet to receive a response.