Media organizations condemn Ayala-Aguinaldo personnel for confiscation of media equipment in Lupang Tartaria

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This article is available in Pilipino

Various media organizations have condemned the illegal confiscation by members of the Jarton Security Agency, paid operatives of the Ayala-Aguinaldos, of the equipment of photojournalist Jose Monsieur Santos while he was in a camp in Tartaria Silang, Cavite, on Saturday midnight, April 20. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Photojournalist’s Center of the Philippines (PCP), Filipino Freelance Journalists’ Guild (FFJ) and College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) called for the immediate return of Santos’ equipment.

Santos says it was around 2 a.m. on April 20 when armed thugs stormed to Ilaya Barangay Tartaria, Silang, Cavite and dispersed the residents and farmers who were camping to defend their land rights. Following this, the guards confiscated the equipment left by the residents on the land they arbitrarily fenced off, including Santos’ belongings.

Santos’ equipment that was confiscated included his cameras and lenses, laptop, ipad and other personal items worth ₱250,000. Since that day, Santos has been negotiating to get his belongings back and insists that he is a journalist. Santos was there to take pictures and report on the important issue of the land issue and the Ayala-Aguinaldos’ usurpation of Tartaria Land.

Santos is a member of PCP, FFPJ and NUJP. “The PCP is calling for the immediate return of Santos’ undamaged equipment, which is his main source of livelihood as a journalist,” the group of photojournalists said. They asserted that attacks against journalists are attacks against democracy.

Under the guards’ violent dispersal, some young people who participated in the camp were also hurt and others were injured. The guards also repeatedly threatened them to harm them should they trespass the land they fenced off to recover the things they left behind.

On April 16, the guards forcibly entered their farming community. They demolished some houses and built fences. Putting up the fence is illegal since the issue of land ownership is pending before the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Supreme Court. This was also soon after an agreement was reached in the barangay to stop the activity that had already started, according to the Samahan ng Magsasaka at Mamamayan ng Tartaria.

On April 15, SAMATA forwarded a letter to the barangay to once again request the local authorities to stop the Ayala-Aguinaldo from fencing off their land. On that day, the company representative Luie Jimenez was present. Farmers asked the barangay to produce a document to maintain the “status quo” and withdraw the fencing permit that has been approved. According to the farmers’ lawyer, the company did not have a “writ of possession” and therefore its fencing permit was illegal. They also demanded a stop to the Jarton Security Services’ intimidation and harassment of Tartaria residents.

Tartaria is part of the 200-hectare property claimed by the Aguinaldo clan in Cavite. Ayala Land Inc. partners with the Aguinaldos in land grabbing as a land developer.

AB: Media organizations condemn Ayala-Aguinaldo personnel for confiscation of media equipment in Lupang Tartaria