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Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA Pilipinas) is the national progressive center of unions, federations, associations and organizations of agricultural workers in the Philippines.

UMA works closely with other progressive people’s organizations in the Philippines such as the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement), and other organizations affiliated with the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance).

UMA is a member of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI) and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)

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Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

Agricultural Workers Denounce De Facto Nationwide Martial Law Under the Duterte Regime

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) vehemently condemns the escalating crackdown on activists, human rights defenders and advocate groups including on one of its national staff members involved in the Hands Off Sr. Pat Campaign. In essence, there is a de facto nationwide martial law under the Duterte regime.

According to UMA Secretary General John Milton “Butch” Lozande, Nadja de Vera, UMA’s national staff member and who is also an active volunteer in the Hands Off Sr. Pat Campaign, has been harassed by state agents.

On June 23, 2018, 5 days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released its order to nullify the forfeiture of visa against Sister Pat and ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to pursue the cancellation of visa and deportation case, a state agent broke and entered the house of Nadja de Vera and her family, between 1 to 5 PM.

Several items were stolen. Among these were a USB, external hard drive, smart and other phones, laptop, and a tablet.

Then from July 2-5, 6 suspected state agents in 2 motorcycles and one Revo vehicle including the person who broke in Nadja’s house were seen stalking her place.

Earlier on May 26, 2018, the day after Sr. Pat filed her Petition for Review at the DOJ against the Bureau of Immigration’s order for Sr. Pat to leave the country and the DOJ released a decision in favour of Sr. Pat, there was an attempt to enter Nadja’s house when no one was home. The state agent tried to break the door’s hinge lock.

Ka Butch added that “the continuing threats, harassment, intimidation, surveillance even of its national staff and illegal arrests and killings of agricultural workers and peasants all over the country are clear indications that we are under a Nationwide Martial Law. We need to become more vigilant and assert our rights in the face of Duterte’s intensifying dictatorship and tyranny.”

In Mindanao, the 8th IBPA illegally arrested 6 peasant women who are members of UMA-member Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (OGYON) in Bukidnon on July 3. The next day, peasant and lumad leaders were placed under illegal mass arrest in General Santos City during a seminar. Not to mention the spate of political killings with the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.

While in Visayas, Julius Barellano, peasant leader of UMA-member National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) was shot to death last June 27. The military has also red-tagged farmers who were simply asserting their right to their lands through bungkalan or land cultivation in Negros Occidental. Part of the red-tagging is the inclusion of NFSW leaders and members of other progressive organizations in public posters of alleged armed rebels in the town of Moises Padilla and other parts of Negros Occidental in April.

And in Luzon, around 27 peasant leaders and farmers in Batangas, a number of which belong to an organization under UMA, were filed with trumped-up charges and included in the DOJ terrorist. Currently, the military has been circling barangays in Calaca, Nasugbu, Lian, San Juan, and Rosario, among others.

“The people do not need an actual pronouncement on television to see that we live in a dictatorship and murderers run free. They are not fooled by Malacanang’s lies as it denies that a climate of impunity exists while day after day another peasant leader, priest, or lumad is either killed, detained or arrested,” Lozande stated.

Agricultural workers vow to intensify its campaign in exposing and opposing Duterte’s atrocities with a huge number from its ranks joining the mobilization during the SONA on July 23.

Lozande added, “In the weeks to come, the masses are getting more organized and becoming more united. In Duterte’s third and perhaps his last SONA, he will know the full meaning of what no lie-spouting machine could ever deny—that sovereignty will and has always resided with the Filipino people.”###

Agricultural Workers Say With or Without New Constitution AFP Will never be Protectors of the People

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) declares that with or without a new Constiution, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will never be a protector of the people.

According to UMA Secretary General John Milton Lozande, the AFP recently made a big fuss about the removal in the proposed federal Constitution a provision describing the AFP as “protector of the people”.

But its fangs came out, when the AFP stated that Human Security Act is inutile, because according to them nobody was indicted for it as terrorists. Other than that, the AFP opposed limiting the conduct of electronic surveillance without any warrant.

And it is not like the AFP has ever let the constitution stopped it from abusing its power.

From July 2016 to December 2017, Karapatan’s year-end report documented 126 victims of political killings; 235 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings; 930 of illegal arrest; 362,355 of indiscriminate firing; 426,590 of forced evacuation, and 56,456 of threat, harassment & intimidation.

Clearly, protecting the people is the AFP’s least priority. Ensuring that there will be just and lasting peace does not run in favor to its US masters that have been funneling multi-million dollar funds for Oplan Kapayapaan (OpKap).

OpKap is the government’s counter-insurgency program that has only resulted to massive attacks and criminalization of individuals and communities who are simply asserting their right to land, just wages, job security and humane working conditions.

OpKap also works to protect big-corporate interests as seen from their continuing presence in rural communities where agribusiness plantations are operating and expanding, especially in Mindanao.

A recent report from the International Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission (IFSM) conducted last April 6-9 in Mindanao documented political killings of farmers, peasant leaders and land reform advocates. Some were killed right in their homes in the presence of their family members and other civilians, while some were murdered in their farms. These incidences were often preceded by red-tagging by the AFP, accusing them of being members or supporters of the New People’s Army.

Lozande added, “Serving the people, especially peasants and agriworkers, is not in the AFP’s best interest. This is evident in the AFP’s role in the stalling of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and later on postponement of the 4th round of official talks.”

Here, the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), a document that guarantees free land distribution, rural development and national industrialization, was set to be signed.

Lozande stated, “It is now in the people’s hands, led by the country’s huge peasantry together with workers, lumad groups, church people and other sectors, to not only resist the continuing repression and oppression of Duterte’s fascist state but also to make genuine agrarian reform a reality for all.”###

Agricultural Workers Condemn Duterte’s Intensifying War against Peasants

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today decried the Duterte regime’s intensifying war against peasants including agricultural workers.

According to UMA Secretary General John Milton “Butch” Lozande, the military under the 8th IBPA illegally mass arrested additional 6 women farm workers on July 3, 2018 in Brgy. New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon.

They were accused by the military of being supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA). The 6 are members of Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (OGYON), which is a member organization of UMA.

The soldiers have been occupying the barangay hall of New Eden for a month now. This incident is the latest among false accusations and arbitrary arrests perpetrated by the military against members of OGYON.

Edilberto Yurong of New Eden, Wenerito Bahian and Gerry Bagiou, both from nearby Brgy. Concepcion were all arrested by State forces on June 30. Ricky Omandam was earlier arrested on June 17. All of them are detained in an army detachment in Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Other than the above, at least 13 church workers and activists were arrested on July 4, while attending a seminar on farmers and lumad issues at the Mother Francisca and Spirituality Center in General Santos City.

A number of those arrested are leaders of militant organizations which included Datu Jomorito Guaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Lumad organization; Ireneo Udarbe, chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao Region; Vennel Chenfoo, chairperson of the Kabataan Partylist-NMR; Kristine Cabardo, chairperson of the League of Filipino Students-NMR; Teresita Naul of human rights group Karapatan; Aldeem Yanez, church worker of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente; and farmer leader Roger Plana.

Also arrested were the security guard and staff of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (IFI-VIMROD).

Peasants are also the biggest number of persons extra-judicially killed for political reasons under the Duterte regime.

On the other hand, the President has the gall to say that he will pursue land reform even if his government cancelled peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Clearly this is contradictory to what government forces on the ground, by labeling those who are pursuing genuine agrarian reform as enemies of the state.

“Inspite of this, agricultural workers, together with other sectors, continue to resist the repression of the Duterte regime. As Duterte continues to unleash the full scope of its tyrannical rule, the people strengthens its resolve to fight and end its reign of terror,” Lozande ended.

UMA

Agricultural Workers Condemn Killing of Local Leader in Negros

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns vehemently the killing of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), local leader Julius Broce Barellano this morning by suspected goons of those who are coveting lands of the farm workers in Sitio Medina, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

According to Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Secretary General John Milton Lozande, Mr. Barellano died of gunshot wounds inflicted by a motor cycling guman in his chest while he was about to enter his house. Mr. Barellano is the Chairperson of Hda. Medina Farm Workers Association, which is a local chapter of the NFSW. NFSW is a member of UMA.

Said members of the Association are struggling to defend their lands and homes from ejectment by a local businessman. Said land of the Hacienda had been foreclosed by a bank and is being claimed by a businessman named Wellington Uy, who states that he was the one who bought the land. He wants to turn the area into a tourist area and also has a quarry of sand and gravel near the river.

Mr. Uy tried to eject the tenants three times, but all of his efforts were rejected by the courts. NFSW believes that the only suspect that would want to get rid of Mr. Barellano is Mr. Uy.

Mr. Barellano is the third NFSW local leader killed during the regime of President Duterte. Flora Jemola, chairperson of NFSW-Sagay was stabbed to death by suspected CAFGU’s on December 21, 2017.

Alexander Ceballos, regional council member of NFSW, on the other was shot in Don Salvador Benedicto by alleged gun for hire goons of former Mayor Dela Cruz’ family on January 20, 2017.

While Webby T. Argabio Sr., council member of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Kabankalan City Chapter.was killed by four assasins on November 8, 2017 in Sitio Abtao, Barangay Tapi, Kabankalan City. All of them were invloved in land struggles.

Negros island is still a bastion of landlordism and the hacienda system is still deeply entrenched there. That is why the farmworkers and farmers have been conducting several land cultivation areas (LCAs) in the island since 2006 covering more than 100 haciendas.

The recent statement made by Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, 303rd commanding officer of the Philippine Army that the LCAs are New People’s Army (NPA) rebels communal farms and even President Duterte’s recent decision to postpone and probably cancel the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are signals for despotic landlords, landgrabbers and even the military to eradicate any opposition against their exploitative and oppressive policies.

UMA and NFSW would not back down in defending the rights of the farmworkers and farmers to assert their rights to their lands which failed to be distributed by bogus land reform laws by all governments that enacted them including one that the President wants to pursue.

We call on all our local chapters to intensify campaigns against killings and other human rights violations perpetuated by landlords and state mercenaries, holding the Duterte regime accountable for its gruesome policies of propagating injustice and impunity.

JuliusNFSW

Regularize all Agricultural Workers and Implement a P750 Daily National Minimum Wage

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) calls on Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III to regularize all agricultural workers in and outside DOLE’s list of those engaged in labor-only contracting and implement a P750 national daily minimum wage for all workers.

UMA also supports the call of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives to abolish the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) and its 17 Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs), which has been mandated to fix and regulate the minimum wage in the provinces.

Among those in DOLE’s top 20 list engaged in labor-only contracting are transnational companies, Dole Philippines Inc. (Dolefil), Dole Stanfilco, and Sumifru Philippines, Corp.

Even the local government of Polomolok, South Cotabato where the cannery of Dole Philippines is located in its Municipal Comprehensive Development Plan from 2017-2022 stated that the company engaged in massive lay-off and contractual hiring from 1995-2000.

The LGU also observed that multi-national companies exploited human resource because of sub-contracting scheme of employment like the manpower agencies and cooperatives tolerated by the government. It also stated that this will lead to poverty if it is unresolved.

Sumifru, on the other hand, besides engaging in labor only contracting, historically has had several labor violations. These include unfair labor practice; illegal dismissal, suspension and harassment of union officers/members; and violation/non-implementation of Collective Bargaining Agreement, among others.

The list compiled by the Labor Department does not include growers under Dolefil and Sumifru who cannot pay their workers even the minimum wage because both transnational corporations buy their produce at very low prices.

Sumifru buys Class A bananas from its growers in Compostela Valley for only $4.25/box. The company though sells its so-called “Banappuru” from the Philippines at 3 packs of 350 grams each or 1.05 kg for JPY 1,360 yen or PHP 659.62. With one box of bananas containing an average of 13.5 kg of bananas, this is equivalent to PHP 8,480.83 or USD 160.97 per box.

Dolefil, on the other hand buys pineapples from its growers at P3.50 per kilo for regular size and P1.50 for smaller ones. Meanwhile, independent growers can sell them to the local market at up to P20 per kilo.

Fresh pineapples are sold in the US at 63 cents (P33.19) per pound or US$1.386 (73.01) per kilo.

These corporations and all other agribusiness companies could very well regularize their workers and pay them at P750 per day without even significantly reducing their multi-billion profits.750

Agricultural Workers Condemn Sereno Ouster, Call Support for Sr. Pat

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) joins the Filipino people in condemning the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice (CJ). This is another signal by the Duterte regime that no dissent would be tolerated against his regime even if that person, under the Constitution is supposedly his co-equal in government.

According to John Milton “Butch” Lozande, secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), President Duterte always gets what he wants especially against critics of his policies, even if this is done by hook or by crook. Instead of being impeached, CJ Sereno was ousted by minions of the President in the Supreme Court (SC) through a quo warranto case.

Next on Duterte’s target is Sr. Patrcia (Pat) Fox, whose rights were already violated by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) by handing out a decision to downgrade her missionary visa to a tourist one even if she had the right to appeal this before the BI’s decision.

The BI even used a 2015 BI Order against Sr. Pat as legal basis for their action on her even if the Philippine Immigration law stipulates that foreigners have the same civil and political rights of locals. What is only prohibited under the law is if that foreigner calls for the ouster, assassination, etc. of the country’s leader.

Given this situation, the hope of the Filipino people against tyranny and even in Sr. Pat’s case is to strengthen the mass movement in supporting her and the growing dissent that the Duterte regime is itself creating.

This includes growing human rights violations especially against the Filipino peasantry especially in Mindanao where martial law is still in place. This also includes policies that aggravate their already dire situation like landlessness and the TRAIN law among others, which increased the financial burden of the Filipino people.

There is already a broad formation against tyranny in which UMA is a part of. This has expanded even before Sereno was ousted and the moves by the Duterte government against Sr. Pat.

A mobilization against the one year declaration of martial law will be held on May 23 and a big protest action will be also held on May 25 or the last day that the BI declared her right to stay in the country.

We call on the Filipino people to support these activities, to struggle for Sr. Pat’s right to stay and do her missionary work among the poor and the oppressed, and against the growing tyranny in the country.

Agricultural Workers Pay Tribute to Karl Marx’s 200th and Affirm Marx’s Legacy as an Integral Part of Their Struggle

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) confers the highest tribute to comrade Karl Marx, as the greatest icon and teacher of the working class worldwide for social transformation on the occasion of the 200th Year of his Birth Anniversary on May 5, 2018.

Marx was born on the 5th of May 1818 in Trier, Germany by Jewish parents. Lawyer by profession, he is a philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist. He molded his ideas in mid 1800s where the industrial revolution is at its height in Europe and where its dire effects to the workers and the people of Europe enabled Marx to conceptualize his revolutionary theories which eventually served as the universal Bible of the working class to free themselves from the clutches of Capitalism and Imperialism worldwide.

Marx together with Frederick Engels initiated revolutionary theories that were eventually applied and developed by revolutionary teachers after him. Marxism achieved its first great triumph in the Russian Revolution in 1917 led by Lenin and Stalin, the first working class state. Great improvements were being followed by Mao when he applied Marxism-Leninism to defeat the US Imperialist-dictated government of Chang Kai-shek in 1949 in feudal China.

Marx’s universal appeal lies in his critical approach to solve the socio-economic problems of the working class in a capitalist society and the crisis weighed down on the peasants in a feudal and semi-feudal social order like the Philippines. He dedicated his whole life and family to create ideas expounding the history of social development; the nature of a state and the enslavery of the working class by the bourgeoisie ruling class; the means and methods of struggle by the exploited and oppressed people to establish a world free of exploitation of man by man.

With Marx’s revolutionary ideas, the peasants and workers were able to recognize their class identity, differentiate their class enemy and friends, consciously assert their role in history as a potent force for social transformation and discern methods on how to scientifically change the world into a truly democratic and just society where people live in genuine peace and complete harmony.

Without Marx’s revolutionary ideas, the workers and peasants worldwide will not enjoy the social welfare benefits they strongly fought like genuine land reform, 8-hour working shifts, better working conditions, social pension, maternity and death benefits, child and women welfare programs, the right to unionize and organize, among many others.

In the Philippine context, under the helm of the landlord-oligarchic rule of the Duterte regime, the semi-feudal economic order and semi-colonial political structure are still ruthlessly imposed by imperialist nations led by the United States of America. This makes Marx’s ground-breaking ideas most relevant and sought after in guiding all forms of struggle—workers, peasants, agricultural workers, fisherfolks, church people and all other sectors who dream for a better world.

Under the Philippine economic and political situation where the US-Duterte faithfully upholds and advances the interests of Monopoly Capitalist nations and domestic Bureaucrat-Capitalist-Landlords, the toiling masses of workers and peasants confidently persevere in their continuing struggle for national industrialization and genuine land reform knowing that they have Karl Marx’s universal ideas as their most powerful weapon towards certain victory.

This victory could be summed-up in Marx’s inspiring thought for the working class, “The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of the world unite!”

 

Agricultural Workers Condemn Officer’s Inclusion in Poster of Armed Rebels in Negros

 The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the inclusion of its Secretary General, John “Butch” Milton Lozande, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW-Negros) Secretary General, Christian Tuayon and other members of progressive organizations in a poster posted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) of armed rebels in Moises Padilla and other parts of Negros Occidental on April 17. NFSW is a member of UMA.

According to UMA Sec. Gen. Butch Lozande, this comes at a time when Sr. Patricia Fox, who is a volunteer of the agricultural workers organization, was recently detained by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and still under investigation for her work and solidarity with the poor in the country.

This includes assisting the sugar workers in Negros, Hacienda Luisita, and the sacadas from Mindanao who were trafficked in said sugar plantation.

Earlier, Mr. Lozande added, a number of members of KAISAHAN-Batangas, which is also a member organization of UMA were included in the list of alleged terrorists by the Duterte-regime.

Other than that, two National Council members of UMA from Cagayan Valley, namely Reynaldo Gameng and Cita Managuelod were also vilified on April 2, when flyers were purportedly distributed by the military and its agents in Isabela and tagged them and 8 others as “minions of godless communists” and “terrorists.”

It is very clear that there is a growing trend towards cracking down on all critics of President Duterte’s regime including agricultural workers who are advocating for genuine land reform, decent wages and benefits, and for their human rights.

Most of those killed other than the war on drugs are peasants, including agricultural workers and indigenous peoples related to land issues.

It is not far-fetched to say that this would lead to the declaration of martial law in the whole country.

This could still be avoided, if President Duterte is really sincere in his proposal to resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), adhering to instead of violating the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL), and signing the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms or CASER.

In the meantime, UMA and its member organizations together with other allied organizations will continue to strengthen itself to fend off fascist attacks by the Duterte regime, while at the same time implementing genuine agrarian reform through its land cultivation areas and “bungkalan” and campaigning for better wages and benefits. And in the long run struggling for the nationalist and democratic aspirations of the Filipino people.

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Poster posted by the Philippine National Police (PNP)

UMA Condemns Military for Tagging Negros Agricultural Workers as Rebels

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, 303rd commanding officer of the Philippine Army for stating that agricultural workers and farmers who are asserting their rights to their lands through Land Cultivation Areas (LCA) in Negros Occidental as rebels.

According to John “Butch” Milton Lozande, secretary general of UMA, the general’s statement is like that of despotic hacienderos who have for centuries lorded it over the sugar industry in Negros at the expense of the sweat and blood of sugar workers. That is the reason why Negros has been described as a social volcano waiting to explode.

Even the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) reports that of the 424,130 hectares of sugar lands in Negros Island, 33.99% of these are lands with 50 hectares or more owned by only 1,860 big landlords (hacienderos), 30% with 10 to 50 hectares are owned by just 6,820 big and small landlords, and the majority of 53,320 farmers and agricultural workers only own 36% of the sugar lands.

At the same time, in 2007 the Negros Occidental Provincial Government conducted a survey, in which it was found that 41% of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in the province are no longer in possession of the lands awarded to them (25,336 out of 61,375 ARBs surveyed) due mainly to lack of support services and non-land support facilities that forced ARBs to lease their land.

The National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) which is a member of UMA estimates that this figure has reached 70% this year. While CARP implementation was only at 40%.

Sugar workers in haciendas (plantations), on the average, receive a measly P500 to P750 weekly wages all year round.  Minimum wage is pegged at only P245 per day for the farm workers but in many haciendas, P80-P120 a day is still prevalent.

Not less than 93% of workers in haciendas engage in “pakyaw system” that provides meager income resulting to ARBs not being able to have adequate food on their table and send their children to school. Many also have no SSS and other government-mandated benefits.

This is the reason why the NFSW and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)-Negros launched the Land Cultivation Area (LCA) or “bungkalan” campaign, especially among sugar workers who have to endure the tiempo muerto (dead season) which lasts for up to five months.

As NFSW has stated quite clearly, the goal of setting up land cultivation areas is to ward off the inevitable hunger brought by the Tiempo Muerto on properties covered by agrarian reform but which remain undistributed and idle, planting these with vegetables, banana, corn and root crops to feed their families.

So if the military under Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes or whoever from this fascist institution wants to unleash the wrath of the social volcano in Negros, let them.

NFSW has never cowed, even when martial law was declared in 1972. It even grew stronger despite numerous human rights violations inflicted on their members, including the Escalante massacre. It is not cowed with the military’s dangerous remarks on its LCA’s and it will always prevail together with the rest of the Filipino peasantry and its allied masses against oppression and exploitation.

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Slave Like Wages Push Sugar Workers Out of the Industry

Slave like wages of sugar field workers push them out of the industry to seek higher paying jobs. This is what Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and especially Negros Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who is also a haciendero (landlord) failed to mention why there is a shortage of sugar field workers.

This is best exemplified by the viral post of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) on social media which shows the pay slip of a dumaan or hacienda sugar worker in Silay City, Negros Occidental, who had only a net pay of P200 per 15 days or P13.33 (US$0.26) daily wage.

Another is the net income of 11 sacadas or internal migrant sugar workers from Mindanao who were hired by the Cojuangco-Aquino-Lorenzo sugar barons to work in Hacienda Luisita and other parts of Central Luzon whose payroll shows during Nov. 21-27, 2016 that they only had a net pay of P38.26 or P5.47 (US$0.11) a day.

It must be also remembered that the sugar field workers of Hacienda Luisita joined the strike of the mill workers of Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) in November 2004, because they were only paid back then at P9.50 (US$0.18) a day.

The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in Region 3 has not yet issued a ruling on the case filed by the sacadas since December last year even after the hearings on this case had already been concluded.

According to John Milton (Butch) Lozande, secretary general of NFSW, slave like wages of sugar field workers is common, because majority of them are paid the pakyaw (task/piece) rate which has been institutionalized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). In Region VI alone, where majority of Philippine sugar is produced, 95% of the sugar workers are paid the pakyaw rate. Essentially this is contractualization.

That is why the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) according to Mr. Lozande is campaigning for a P50 increase in the daily wage and 50% increase in the pakyaw rate in Negros Island and similar wage hike campaigns in the whole country to get rid of their slave like wages and against contractualization.

Ka Butch also stated that NFSW is also campaigning for a genuine agrarian reform program as majority of the sugar lands distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Negros Occidental is under lease (aryendo) to financiers and hacienderos.

The Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) evaluation of land reform in Hacienda Luisita estimated that 83% of the lands there are under lease.

NFSW is thus embarking on land cultivation areas (LCA) or “bungkalan” in Negros, Hacienda Luisita and other areas to ensure that the ARBs have control of their lands and if they choose so, to cultivate other crops like rice and vegetables.

The government must also provide assistance to all ARBs and small farmers in the country through subsidies for farm inputs and the like and not only through mechanization as what Sec, Piñol and Gov. Marañon are proposing.

Mechanization will not solve the sugar industry. Higher wages, ending labor contractualization, genuine agrarian reform, and government subsidy will.

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