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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)

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

Agricultural Workers Press DAR to Release to ARBs in Tinang, Tarlac Their Individual CLOAs and Install Them in Their Lands

Agricultural Workers Press DAR to Release to ARBs in Tinang, Tarlac Their Individual CLOAs and Install Them in Their Lands

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today pressed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to release to the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in barangay Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) and install them in their lands instead of revalidating them again if they are ARBs since this has already been done as early as in 1995 and their collective CLOA issued in 1998.

This is in reaction to DAR’s Task Force Tinang’s presence today in said barangay in which it will conduct a survey to revalidate the ARBs. This is dangerous as it may result in the disqualification of the ARBs who have already been identified by DAR as there is a pending dispute between the beneficiaries and a cooperative called Tinang Samahang Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative Incorporation (Tinang SNMCI).

According to UMA chairperson Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, said cooperative was set up by the Villanueva political family in 1992, in Concepcion, Tarlac, including ex-Congressman and incoming Mayor Noel Villanueva.

In 1995, the DAR came up with a final list of 236 individuals as the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of the land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). On September 26, 1995, unknown to the ARBs, a collective CLOA was issued to the above cooperative.

At that time, the DAR did not inform the ARBs of the issuance of the collective CLOA under their names. It only dealt with Mr. Vernon L. Villanueva, who at that time, was the Barangay Captain of Barangay Tinang, and a member of the Board of Directors of the petitioner-cooperative. In turn, Vernon concealed the fact of the issuance of the collective CLOA to the ARBs. Vernon is the brother of presumptive Mayor Noel Villanueva.

Also during that time, 94 ARBs had already signified their intention to leave and not to become members of the cooperative due to its failure to account its income and expenses, and for paying its members unjustifiably low, unreasonable, and minimal amounts of dividends.

These 94 ARBs also have a pending case with DAR Region 3 against the cooperative dated February 24, 2022 to the Petition for Annulment/Revocation of Judgment With Petition for Disqualification & Re-Allocation & Petition for Cancellation of Approved Survey Plans (With Urgent Prayer for Issuance of a Cease and Desist Order) and a motion to account and pay the lease rentals and income of the land due and owing to the ARBs.

Finally, the DAR should respect the decision of the newly formed Makisama-Tinang who will not take part in its revalidation survey today. Instead it should heed the ARBs demands to provide them with individual CLOAs and install them in their lands unless the DAR will again be complicit with the desires of the Villanuevas to covet the lands which are not theirs in the first place and continue the injustices being suffered by the ARBs.

#LandToTheTillers

#FreeLandDistribution

#PushGARB

AGRI-WORKERS TO DOLE: WHY ALLOW MILITARY TO WHITE-WASH UNION-BUSTING WITH SOCIAL SERVICES?

Press statement – May 21, 2022 – UMA

On Saturday, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) slammed the complicity of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Isabela for facilitating the military’s illegal and ongoing efforts to union-bust its chapter built by agricultural workers in Sta. Maria.

In a press release last May 14, the 502nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army announced the completion of livelihood training courses for members of Asosasyon ng mga Magtutubo at Manggagawa ng Sta. Maria (AMAS) and Asosasyon ng mga Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Sta. Maria (ANMAS).

The courses were given through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and were part of counter-insurgency operations conducted by the Provincial Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in conjunction with DOLE Isabela and other local government agencies.

However, according to UMA Chairperson Antonio ‘Ka Tonying’ Flores, AMAS and ANMAS were state-sponsored associations convened by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as alternatives to UMA-Isabela which the AFP had been routinely harassing since early last year.

“DOLE should be ashamed of itself for colluding with violent union-busters,” declared Flores. “Instead of defending UMA-Isabela, it allowed the AFP to militarize social services in order to terrorize agricultural workers into disaffiliating from a legitimate labor association. Is DOLE not duty-bound to uphold the right to association?”

In a complaint filed by UMA to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in June 2021, the labor federation bemoaned how the 502nd IB, particularly Brigadier General Danilo Benavides, had made malicious accusations that members of UMA-Isabela, particularly its leader Cita Managuelod, were armed revolutionaries.

The anecdote was consistent with the rest of UMA-Isabela’s narrative in the ILO complaint. Along with the 5th CMO Battalion and the Philippine National Police, the 502nd IB had been conducting house-to-house visits of organized agri-workers in Sta. Maria, harassing them for their struggle for higher wages and benefits.

Green Future Innovations, Inc. (GFII), a bioethanol company owned by Martin Lorenzo whose sugar plantation was in Isabela, had been paying its sugar workers below the regional minimum wage rate of P345/day. Lorenzo, a member of the landgrabbing family behind Lapanday in Davao del Norte, was also CEO of Central Azucarera de Tarlac when its subsidiary, Agrikulto, illegally trafficked almost 900 sacadas from four regions in Mindanao, and abused them in Hacienda Luisita in 2017.

In suppressing UMA-Isabela’s right to make demands, the AFP had, in UMA’s words, “effectively become Lorenzo’s private army, serving GFII’s interests.” And in vilifying progressives, the AFP unwittingly revealed how it had been squandering resources in sham counter-insurgency operations like those allotted for ‘Community Support Programs.’

“Because taxes fund the military, we might as well say that the Filipino people subsidize Lorenzo’s use of the AFP to trample on his workers’ right to association,” concluded Flores. “And we agricultural workers will exhaust all efforts to hold them, along with DOLE, accountable for this grave violation of basic labor rights.”

#HandsOffUnionists

#NoToUnionBusting

#NoToRedtagging

#StandWithWorkers

#StandWithFarmers

SA ARAW NG PAGGAWA: KARAPATANG PANTAO RIN ANG KARAPATAN SA LUPA, SAHOD, AT PAG-UUNYON!

Press statement – Mayo 1, 2022 – UMA

Ngayong Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa, binigyang-diin ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) ang suporta nito sa tambalang Leni Robredo at Kiko Pangilinan sa Halalang 2022. Pangunahing batayan ng kanilang pagsuporta ang pangako ng mga kandidato na wakasan ang kontraktwalisasyon o ‘endo’ upang matiyak ang seguridad sa trabaho ng lahat ng mga manggagawa.

Sinandigan din ng mga manggagawang agrikultural ang kanilang pagsisikap kamtin ang nakabubuhay na sahod at seguridad sa pagkain—mga susing agenda na ipinaglalaban ng UMA.

Gayunpaman, hiniling ng pederasyon sa tambalan na tulungan ang mga manggagawang agrikultural sa pagtitiyak na kanila ring mapakinabangan ang kanilang mga benepisyo, lalo na ang mga manggagawa sa tubuhan dahil marami sa kanila ay itinuturing na ‘seasonal’ lamang.

Kabilang sa mga benepisyong nabanggit ang pagtamasa ng mga field worker sa industriya ng asukal sa kanilang Cash Bonus Fund (CBF) sa ilalim ng Social Ameolioration Program (SAP). Hinaing nila, kailangan pa silang isama ng kanilang mga employer sa espesyal na payroll sa halip na mabigyan ng isang pinasimpleng payslip kung saan kumpletong nakalahad ang sahod at mga benepisyo.

Hiniling din ng UMA na pag-isipang muli nina Robredo’t Pangilinan ang pagkiling sa pagpapatuloy ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Kung seryoso raw sa seguridad sa pagkain ang mga kandidato, marapat nilang suriin ang palpak na programa para matukoy kung paano nito sinasabotahe ang kontrol ng mga benepisaryo sa lupang iginawad sa kanila.

Tinukoy ni Antonio Flores, chairperson ng UMA, ang kabiguan ng CARP na ipamahagi ang kalupaan ng Hacienda Luisita sa mga nagbubungkal nito. Aniya, 90% ng agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) na dating manggagawa sa tubuhan, ay wala nang kontrol sa kanilang lupain dahil pinaupahan o ibinenta na nila ang mga ito.

Nariyan din ang problema sa agri-business venture arrangements (AVAs) na pinahihintulutan sa ilalim ng CARP. 1.2 milyong ektarya ang saklaw nito’t tinamnan ng walang iba kundi high-value crops (HVCs) imbis na palay at iba pang makakain. Karamihan sa mga ito ay mga plantasyong pag-aari ng transnational corporations na nakonsolida sa pamamagitan ng pang-aagaw ng lupang sakahan, maski ng lupang ninuno ng mga katutubo.

Kabilang sa mga namrumblema sa AVAs ang mga magsasaka ng Sumilao na minsang sinuportahan ni Bise-presidente Robredo sa kaniyang kakayahan bilang abugado. 10 taong inupahan ng kanilang amo para sa korporasyong Del Monte ang kanila lupa bago ito tuluyang naibenta sa San Miguel Corporation. Notoryus ang parehong kompanya sa pang-aagaw ng lupa.

Karamihan sa mga AVA ay mga kasunduan sa pag-upang umaabot sa 25 taon, Malimit na binabarat ng mga korporasyon umuupa ang mga magsasakang naitulak at nadehado sa growership kung saan ang mga probisyon ay pabor sa negosyante. Isang halimbawa nito ang pagbili ng Dole Philippines ng Class A na pinya sa halagang P5 lamang kada kilo mula sa mga grower.

Sa pagsang-ayon sa AVA, nawawalan ng kontrol ang mga magsasaka sa kanilang mga lupain. Ngunit sapilitan naman ang kanilang pagsang-ayon dahil hindi sila binibigyan ng gobyerno ng subsidyo para sa mga input sa produksyon. Anila, napakabigat ng gayong gastusin sa kanilang walang-wala o kulang sa kapital.

Sa kabila ng kanilang mga kahilingan, pinuri pa rin ng mga manggagawang agrikultural ang pangako nila Robredo at Pangilinan na pangalagaan ang karapatang pantao. Paalala lamang ng UMA, ang mga karapatang nayurakan ng rehimeng Duterte ay hindi lamang iyong nayurakan ng pekeng gera sa droga; dapat ding itaguyod ang mga karapatang may kinalaman sa paggawa, kabilang ang karapatang mag-unyon at lumahok sa mga samahan.

Sinalungguhitan ng pederasyon kung gaano kalubha ang mga atake ng estado sa Negros kung saan naroon ang mayorya ng mga manggagawa sa asukal. Ayon kay Flores, dapat ding ipanawagan nina Robredo at Pangilinan ang pagbabasura sa Memorandum Order 32 (MO32) na nagdeklara ng “state of lawlessness” sa nasabing lugar, pati na sa Samar at rehiyon ng Bicol.

Lagpas 100 na ang biktima ng extra-judicial killings (EJKs) sa Negros sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte, at 16 sa kanila ay mga kasapi ng National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW). Sa 56 namang manggagawang pinatay sa nakaraang anim na taon, 27 dito ay mula sa hanay ng mga manggagawang agrikultural.

Umaasa ang UMA na, kung palaring manalo, magiging kakampi ng mga manggagawang agrikultural sina Robredo at Pangilinan. At kung matalo man, walang pumipigil sa kanilang manindigan para sa adbokasiya ng lupa, sahod, trabaho, at karapatan at pangalagaan ang interes ng parehong uring manggagawa at uring magsasaka.
#StandWithWorkers
#A10AngBukas
#EndEndo
#750NMW

AGRI-WORKERS: ILUKLOK SA PODER ANG MGA KAKAMPI NG KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID AT KILUSANG PAGGAWA!

Press statement – May 6, 2022 – UMA

“Hindi lubos na maipagtatagumpay nating manggagawa’t magsasaka ang interes ng sektor sa pamamagitan ng pagboto. Ang usapin ng lupa at nakabubuhay na sahod ay ipinaglalaban, hindi iniaasa sa politiko,” paalala ni Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, chairperson ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

“Gayunpaman, makapagbubukas ng puwang ang eleksyon para patuloy na isulong ang ating mga panawagan. Malaking balakid sa ating pagkilos ang umiiral na pasismo, at kung makapagluluklok tayo ng mga lider na anti-pasista, mas maluwag tayong makakikilos para igiit ang ating mga karapatan.”

Ipinahayag ito ng lider-pesante ngayong araw ng Miting de Avance ng Anakpawis Party-list sa Quezon City. Kilalang tagasuporta ng progresibong partylist ang UMA bilang katuwang sa iba’t ibang kampanya ng mga manggagawang agrikultural gaya ng pagkamit sa tunay na repormang agraryo.

ANAKPAWIS, PARTYLIST NG MASA

Maisusuma sa limang puntos ang pangunahing agenda ng Anakpawis Party-list na ipinamamandila na nito mula pa noong unang lumahok sa eleksyon: lupa, sahod, trabaho, panirahan, at karapatan. Lahat ng ito ay lapat sa interes ng mga manggagawang agrikultural.

Natatangi ang Anakpawis sa pagpapahalaga sa usapin ng lupa. Kawalan kasi nito ang pangunahing sanhi ng kahirapan sa bansang pesante ang malaking mayorya. Ito ang partylist na nanguna sa paglatag ng Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) para sa libreng pamamahagi ng lupa sa nagbubungkal nito at mga kaakibat na suportang kailangan ng magsasaka para linangin ang agrikultura.

Susi rin sa soberanya ng bansa sa pagkain at rekurso ang tunay na repormang agraryo. Sa pagbuwag nito sa monopolyo sa lupa, mababawi ng mga pesante ang kontrol sa lupang inagaw ng malalaking landlord at mga komprador, at mailalaan ang produksyon sa kagyat na pangangailangan ng taumbayan imbis na sa dikta ng mga imperyalista.

Susog din dito ang pagsulong ng Anakpawis sa ayuda at kabuhayan, lalo na sa anyo ng subsidyo sa produksyong agrikultural. Malaking tulong ito sa mga magsasakang nagtatanim ng makakain, at maski sa small growers ng high-value crops na nanlulumo sa nagtataasang presyo ng inputs gaya ng abono.

Diin ng UMA, napupulsuhan ng Anakpawis ang kanilang pangangailangan dahil ang mga nominado nito ay hindi politiko kundi kapwa aktibista. Si Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, halimbawa, ay chairperson emeritus ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, at may mahabang kasaysayan ng pakikibaka para sa anakpawis.

LABOG AT COLMENARES, KASANGGA NG ANAKPAWIS

“Hindi rin burukrata kapitalista sina Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog at Neri Colmenares,” dagdag ni Ka Tonying. “Karaniwang mamamayan ang kanilang kinakatawan, hindi malalaking negosyo. Hindi sila mula sa dinastiyang politikal o sa partidong may malalaking makinarya. Sila ay produkto ng mga progresibong kilusan.”

Ayon sa pederasyon, bilang haligi ng kilusang paggawa, matagal nang kasangga ng mga manggagawang agrikultural si Labog. Lider-unyonista mula sa Kilusang Mayo Uno, si Labog ay tagapamandila ng laban para sa national minimum wage na P750 kada araw, pagwawakas sa endo, at makabayang unyonismo.

Bilang human rights lawyer naman mula National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, kakampi ng mga manggagawang agrikultural si Colmenares laban sa abuso ng estadong kinakasangkapan ng mga landlord at korporasyon. Lalong kagyat ang gayong depensa sa kanayunan kung saan talamak ang militarisasyon at kaakibat nitong human rights violations.

Bilang mga aktibista, may pagkilala sina Labog at Colmenares sa lakas ng anakpawis bilang pinakamalaki’t pinakaproduktibong sektor. Sa loob o labas ng senado, mananatiling pundasyon ng kanilang agenda ang tunay na repormang agraryo at pambansang industriyalisasyon bilang tugon sa malawak na kahirapan.

ROBREDO AT PANGILINAN, DEPENSA SA DEMOKRASYA

Ang pagsang-ayon ni Leni Robredo sa pagwawakas sa endo at pagtindig ni Kiko Pangilinan para sa seguridad sa pagkain ay umaayon din sa kagustuhan ng mga manggagawang agrikultural. Naging batayan din ng pagsuporta sa kanila ng UMA ang layuning taasan ang sahod nang may pagtanaw sa nakabubuhay na halaga.

Sinalungguhitan din ng pederasyon ang pagpapahalaga nito sa anti-pasistang tindig ng tambalan. Anila, ang pagtutol ng bise-presidente at ng senador sa mga abuso ng rehimeng Duterte ay senyales ng kahandaang buksan ang mga demokratikong espasyong isinara ng pasismo ng pamahalaan.

Ikinalugod din ng mga manggagawang agrikultural ang konsistent na pagtindig nina Robredo’t Pangilinan laban sa pagmamaniobra ni Bongbong Marcos sa kasaysayan. Pangamba nila, maaaring maulit ang mga trahedya ng diktaduryang Marcos kung buburahin ng makinarya ng anak ang mga krimen ng ama nito.

“Walang maaasahang dayalogo sa pagitan ng mga manggagawang agrikultural at gobyernong pinamumunuan ng mga gahamang pasista gaya nina Bongbong Marcos at Sara Duterte,” banta ni Ka Tonying. “Ngunit maaaring magbukas muli ang linya ng ating pakikipag-usap kung sina Leni at Kiko ang nasa pamunuan.”

Kinatagpuan din ng pag-asa ng UMA ang kagustuhan ng tambalang magpatuloy ang usapang pangkapayapaan ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines at ng pamahalaan ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Walang militaristang solusyon sa mahigit 50-taong gera ng estado at New People’s Army; tanging mga hakbang patungong panlipunang hustisya, lalo na ang laglusaw sa monopolyo sa lupa, ang wawakas nito.

Pagsasara ng UMA, mismong kilusang magbubukid at kilusang paggawa ang mag-aangat sa bandila ng pambansang demokrasya, ngunit mas malaya itong maiwawagayway kung hindi sinusupil ng estado ang maralitang nag-oorganisa. Ika raw ng dakilang kanta, walang maaasahang manunubos ang anakpawis; ang kaligtasa’y nasa sama-samang pagkilos.

#MakabayangPagbabago

#SulongAnakpawis

#154Anakpawis

#37LabogSaSenado

#16ColmenaresSaSenado

#Makabayan4LeniKiko

#NoToMarcosDuterte2022

#LandToTheTillers

#EndEndo

ON LUISITA SC RULING ANNIVERSARY, AGRI-WORKERS CALL FOR THE DEMILITARIZATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE HACIENDA

Press statement – April 25, 2022 – UMA

On April 24, 2012, the Supreme Court issued a final and executory decision affirming the distribution of Hacienda Luisita, a massive patch of land bigger than Manila and Makati combined, to its tillers. This meant that 4,099.92 hectares of the estate would go to 6,212 beneficiaries made up of poor farmers and agricultural workers, granting each a less than meager 6,600 sq. meters. The sham option of stock distribution—a way out of land distribution that supposedly made stockholders out of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs)—was no longer on the table.

Yet a decade later, the hacienda remained monopolized by the Cojuangco clan of landlords and dynastic bureaucrats, with large swathes controlled in partnership with the Lorenzos, known cronies of the Duterte regime. The lack of farm-input subsidies from the government forced 90% of ARBs to either sell their land or lease it back via arriendo, effectively losing control over what they’ve been granted. Despite claims by the government that agrarian reform was already complete in this part of Tarlac, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) insisted that genuine distribution remained a fantasy on paper.
“Majority of peasants in Hacienda Luisita plant only what the Cojuangcos tell them to plant. Agri-workers are paid a pittance by the Cojuangcos and Lorenzos for backbreaking work carried out on land they have no control over,” lamented Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, chairperson of UMA. “This is what agrarian reform looks like when it’s crafted and implemented by a state beholden to big landlords and corporate landgrabbers.” According to the peasant leader, the prevailing landlessness of peasants was proof of the bankruptcy of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

RE-CONCENTRATION, EVICTION, MILITARIZATION

UMA lamented that Hacienda Luisita was plagued by land re-concentration, eviction, and militarization. Peasants who had been occupying farmland laid claim to by TADECO (Tarlac Develop Corporation) were disappointed by a list recently released by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which recognized a mere 15% of its original petitioners. Elsewhere in the hacienda, residents of of barangay Central were under threat of eviction by the Lorenzos who sought the area’s development in cahoots with the Ayalas.
Regimes after Arroyo, under whose watch the Hacienda Luisita Massacre took place, kept peasant unrest in the estate at bay through plain terrorism. The state even allowed the encampment of military and para-military forces within its civilian peasant communities, violating International Humanitarian Law as well as principles observed by the International Labor Organization. In effect, the state put its own armed forces at the disposal of the Cojuangco-Lorenzos, serving as their publicly funded private army.

The military went as far as build fake unions and associations like MALAYA (Malayang Magsasaka ng Hacienda Luisita), which peasants they had harassed and intimidated were forced to join, particularly members of the progressive AMBALA (Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita). The 1st Civil Relations Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil Relations Service, in particular, red tagged organized farmers and agri-workers, to force them into disaffiliating with AMBALA. An unconstitutional tactic replicated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) even outside of Tarlac, this was a blatant violation of the rights to association and free expression.

“Divide-and-conquer is a dirty maneuver the military picked up from foreign colonizers who had set up the hacienda system in the first place,” explained Flores. “In their bid to destroy a united peasantry that posed a threat to big landlords and greedy corporations, the AFP would build fake associations to pit peasant against peasant. This revealed whose interests state armed forces truly served—not those of the toiling masses, but of the imperialists who had taught them such tactics and who benefit from the land monopoly of domestic landlords and compradors.”

OPPOSITION TO LAND MONOPOLY

Despite setbacks, UMA remained optimistic that Hacienda Luisita could be reclaimed by the farmers and agricultural workers who had kept it productive. ARBs remained determined to get their due, in spite of the division maliciously sowed among them by the military. But while the federation was certain that nothing short of a mass movement was decisive in breaking the land monopoly exercised by these landlord families and their corporations, it urged opposition candidates in the 2022 national elections to give their struggle a push.

“The Cojuangcos, among them the late President Noynoy Aquino, are known allies of the opposition. If Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan are serious about siding with the peasantry, then they should be ready to scrutinize their alliance with known landgrabbers,” challenged Flores. “We urge them to make the distribution of large estates like Hacienda Luisita a part of their electoral agenda, even if it steps on the interests of their allies. They should also examine the many failures of CARP and push for genuine agrarian reform.”

Since 2007, Anakpawis Partylist had filed the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) thrice. Among the lawmakers who had pushed for it hard were former agrarian reform secretary and current Anakpawis first nominee Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, as well as UMA vice-chairperson and former Anakpawis representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao. In UMA’s view, if the Leni-Kiko tandem would stand with Anakpawis in advocating for GARB, this could be the break the bill needed to finally get the green light from Congress.

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ON SLAIN ANAKPAWIS LEADER’S BIRTHDAY, AGRI-WORKERS RENEW SUPPORT FOR PARTYLIST’S CAUSE


Press statement – April 23, 2022 – UMA

On what should have been peasant leader Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis’ 73rd birthday, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) renewed their support for Anakpawis Party-list, of which he had been the national chairperson.

“There is no better way of honoring Ka Randy’s memory than carrying on with the struggle for social emancipation that he had been so ardent about,” said Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, chairperson of UMA. “If he were still alive, he would be with us in the campaign against the tyranny of the Marcos-Duterte axis, raising high the signature torch of Anakpawis.”

A pillar of the peasant movement, Ka Randy was thrown in prison thrice for his commitment to genuine agrarian reform, food sovereignty, and rural development. First under the Marcos dictatorship in 1983, then under the Aquino regime in 1990, then finally under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime in 2008—all on patently false and malicious charges.

He was equally a pillar of the peace movement. For peace to last, it had to be genuine; and for it to be genuine, it had to rest on justice. He upheld the principle of just peace by taking on important roles in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), serving as a peace consultant to the latter for 20 years.

As part of the Reciprocal Working Committee on Social Economic Reforms (RWC-SER), Ka Randy led the formulation of the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development agenda, a key component of the NDFP draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). Here he laid down the principle of free land distribution, which both parties would agree on before state bureaucrats, including Duterte himself, sabotaged the talks.

On August 10, 2020, in the middle of harsh COVID-related lockdowns, assailants broke into his Quezon City home, killing him with 40 stab wounds. Instead of a conducting a serious investigation, state forces propagated the lie that it was his comrades in the national democratic movement who had assassinated him.

“Free land distribution is at the heart of Anakpawis Partylist’s fight for social reforms,” explained Ka Tonying. “The peasantry makes up the vast majority not only of the toiling masses, but of the entire Filipino population. Yet in spite of their number, 90% of them have little to no land of their own to till.” He complained that past land reform programs, including the expired yet still ongoing Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), were designed to veil rather solve systemic landlessless.

CARP exacted amortization fees from farmers who could barely shoulder the cost of agricultural production, compounding their troubles. Neither did it guarantee state support for keeping land granted to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) productive. On the contrary, it held duplicitous provisions that allowed the re-concentration of land back to big landlords and corporations.

UMA shared with Anakpawis the analysis that genuine agrarian reform, beginning with free land distribution, was key to national progress and systemically alleviating poverty on a national scale. This was the reason why, since Anakpawis first proposed the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) in 2007, UMA had been behind the progressive partylist all the way.

The late Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran led its filing in the 14th Congress. Its refiling was led in the 15th Congress by former Anakpawis representative and now Anakpawis first nominee Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano. Then it was filed again by Anakpawis Rep. Fernando L. Hicap in the 16th Congress. And Ka Randy had been with them through those years, struggling alongside them as a key member of the partylist.

“Just as the various peasant organizations carry Ka Randy’s torch in the peasant struggle, so does Anakpawis carry his torch in the electoral struggle,” explained Ka Tonying. “Only by freeing the peasantry from feudal bondage can Filipinos seize control of the forces of production from imperialist control. Anakpawis never wavered on pursuing this goal and, of course, neither did Ka Randy.”

The peasant leader closed his statement by urging Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates supported by Anakpawis, to similarly honor Ka Randy’s memory by supporting GARB. According to UMA, if the tandem were serious about ending hunger and raising the quality of every Filipino’s life, then they should start with free land distribution to the class that makes up the country’s biggest, poorest, and most oppressed sector—the peasantry.

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USDA findings validate sugar workers’ concern: SRA inaction over fertilizer costs pulls production down

A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recent report validated sugar workers and planters concern that stated that the sugar production in the Philippines would drop just to 2 million Metric Tons (MT) this crop year mainly due to lower fertilizer usage because of rising prices.

According to Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) chairperson Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, this is clearly a slap in the face of the Sugar Regulatory Administration(SRA) which never acknowledged the complaints of sugar planters on high fertilizer costs since as early as September last year.

It only blamed the drop in the sugar production due to the damaged inflicted by Typhoon Odette which the USDA also acknowledged. At that time, fertilizer costs ballooned from P850 – P2,400 a bag. Now it has already gone up to P3,200 a bag or almost 4 times the price.

One needs 18 sacks of fertilizer for every hectare of land planted to sugarcane. So from the previous P15,300 of the price of fertilizer before, one now needs to shell out P57,600 to be able to plant one hectare of sugarcane. Or a rise in production cost of P42,300 per hectare. This does not even include the rise in the price of petrol which is also needed in the planting and harvesting of sugarcane.

It will be remembered that the SRA only cited the effects of Typhoon Odette on sugarcane crops on its projection that there will be a lower production of sugar this crop year.

However, as of April 3, 2022, according to the SRA itself, raw sugar production for crop year 2021-22 up to April 3, 2022 is just 0.60% lower than last year’s crop year. In addition to this, refined sugar production up to the same date above is 17.42% higher than last crop year.

It would do well for the SRA which is under the Department of Agriculture (DA) to acknowledge the increase in prices of fertilizer in the sugar industry and provide the necessary production assistance to sugarcane planters, most of whom are small shareholders instead of just planning to import 350,000 MT of sugar.

Importation would only bankrupt small planters and turn them into sugarcane field workers who are one of the lowliest paid workers in agriculture.

https://apps.fas.usda.gov/newgainapi/api/Report/DownloadReportByFileName?fileName=Sugar%20Annual_Manila_Philippines_RP2022-0022.pdf

Source Verification: Gi Estrada – Media Officer 09179450552

Agricultural Workers Urge Arrest of Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III for Shooting Incident in Ka Leody Sortie

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today urged Philippine authorities to arrest Quezon, Bukidnon Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III for being implicated in the shooting on April 19, 2022 of 5 Manobo-Pulangihon tribe members during Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman’s election sortie in a disputed land in barangay Butong in said Municipality and province.

The shooting incident happened after the Indigenous Peoples occupied 4 hectares of land not planted to pineapples which Ka Leody visited. Partido Lakas Manggagawa chair and vice presidential bet Walden Bello described the perpetrators as “armed goons of (Quezon Mayor Pablo) Lorenzo.

According to UMA chairperson Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III was also a suspect as the mastermind in the killing on 3 February 2017 of Renato Anglao in Quezon. Anglao was the Secretary General of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA) whose lands were land grabbed by Montalvan Ranch owned also by the Quezon mayor.

In a report by Global Witness, it wrote that in November 2015, Renato was threatened by Lorenzo in person, who told him: if you don’t stop this you will “regret it”. This came at a time when Renato was leading the community’s protests and just over a year before he was murdered.

Global Witness also wrote a report on September 18, 2019, exposing Mayor Pablo Lorenzo and Del Monte Philippines for being implicated in violent attacks against indigenous peoples.

It claimed that besides owning Montalvan Ranch, the Mayor is also a pineapple grower of Del Monte Philippines and even employed him as a consultant. He is the general manager and co-owner of the Kiantig Development Corporation – a company that operates on land adjacent to the Montalvan Ranch and which had a Crop Producer and Growership Agreement with Del Monte Philippines to grow pineapples for the corporation from August 2008 until March 2019.

UMA stated that Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III has a long history of land grabbing and violent attacks against indigenous peoples. He should be arrested right away for his crimes lest impunity continues to reign in his fiefdom in Quezon, Bukidnon.

#StopTheAttacks

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ELECTORAL VIOLENCE SA BUKIDNON, KINONDENA NG AGRI-WORKERS

Press statement – Abril 19, 2022 – UMA

“Kung saan talamak ang pang-aagaw sa lupa, talamak din ang karahasan. Nakakagalit, bagaman hindi nakakagulat, ang pamamaril sa dayalago nina presidential candidate Leody de Guzman at mga pambansang minorya ng Bukidnon.”

Mariing kinondena ni Antonio ‘Ka Tonying’ Flores, chairperson ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), ang karahasang dulot ng pinagsususpetsahang goons ni Pablo Lorenzo III, mayor ng Quezon, sa mga kandidatong bitbit ng Partido Lakas ng Masa sa Quezon, Bukidnon.

Naroon ang presidentiable, kasama sina senatorial aspirants Roy Cabonegro at David D’Angelo, para sa isang konsultasyon sa mga Manobo-Pulangiyon ukol sa di-umanong pang-aagaw sa kanilang lupang ninuno. Lima ang tinamaan ng 15-minutong putukan.

“Kung gaano kahaba ang kasaysayan ni Lorenzo ng pandadahas sa mga katutubo ng Bukidnon para agawin ang kanilang lupa, gayundin kahaba ang kasaysayan ng pagbubulag-bulagan ng National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) sa pang-aapi ng mga landgrabber sa kanila,” dagdag ni Ka Tonying.

Noong 2017, pinaslang si Renato Anglao, lider-Manobo at secretary general ng Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA), dahil sa kaniyang masugid na pagtatanggol ng kanilang soberanya sa teritoryong kinatirikan ng Montalvan Ranch. Si Mayor Lorenzo rin ang may-ari ng rantsuhang ito, gayundin ang katabing Kiantig Development Corporation.

Sa pagsusuri ng UMA, kasabwat ng mga plantasyon si Lorenzo sa layuning palawakin ang mga lupaing mapagtataniman ng high-value crops gaya ng pinya. Kabilang sa mga korporasyong nakikinabang sa kaniyang pang-aagaw ng lupa ay Del Monte Philippines.

“Ang karahasang sumalubong kina Ka Leody ay isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit tila hirap na hirap ang mga kandidatong paksain ang lupa sa kanilang mga kampanya,” himutok ni Ka Tonying. “Pangunahing sanhi ng kahirapan ng bansa, lalo na sa kanayunan, ang kawalan ng soberanya sa lupa ng mga pesante’t pambansang minorya.”

Siyam sa kada 10 pesante, kabilang ang mga katutubo, ay walang sariling lupang sakahan o kinukulang nito. Kawalan ng lupa ang nagtutulak sa mga magsasaka para maglako ng lakas-paggawa maski sa mismong nagnakaw ng lupa sa kanila. At bilang manggagawang agrikultural, kalunos-lunos ang sahod na tinatanggap nila, malimit na mas mababa pa sa ligal sa na pamantayan.

Sinalungguhitan ng UMA kung gaano kahalagang itampok ang usapin ng lupa sa eleksyon. Ang kawalan ng lupa ay isyung kinakaharap ng malawak na sektor ng anakpawis, at ang kagutumang hatid nito ay suliraning kinakaharap ng buong bansa. Hindi dapat takasan ng mga kandidato ang usapin ng tunay na reporma sa lupa, kabilang ang pangangalaga nito sa mga lupang ninuno.

“Dapat aksyunan ng Commission on Elections (COMELEC) itong pandarahas na itinutok sa isang diskusyong kaugnay ng eleksyon at ikinapahamak maski ng mga sibilyan,” pagwawakas ni Ka Tonying. “Maging hamon sana ito sa mga kandidato na suriin mabuti ang suliranin ng ating mga kababayan sa lupa, at manindigan para sa soberanya ng uring anakpawis.”
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For reference:
Gi Estrada – Media Officer – 09179450552

Agricultural Workers Dare SRA to Solve Escalating Fertilizer Prices Instead of Resorting to Massive Importation of Sugar

Press statement – Abril 12, 2022 – UMA

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today slammed the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for resorting to a planned 350,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar while doing nothing to lower the costs of fertilizer used in the industry, which has now reached to P3,200 a bag from a previous price of just P850 in the last crop year.

According to UMA chairperson Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, one needs 18 sacks of fertilizer for every hectare of land planted to sugarcane. So from the previous P15,300 of the price of fertilizer before, one now needs to shell out P57,600 to be able to plant one hectare of sugarcane. This even excludes the price of petrol which has also gone up, which further increases the production costs of sugar planters, most of whom are small shareholders.

Ka Tonying further added, why the SRA and even the Department of Agriculture (DA) have time and again failed not only to address these issues or even acknowledge these. Sugar prices would go down if the SRA and DA could solve the high costs of fertilizers and petrol by providing subsidies to sugar planters.

On the other hand, resorting to massive importation, which originally was only 200,000 MT has now ballooned to 350,000 MT would only bankrupt small planters and affect even the earnings of big planters.
The latter would only transform their sugarcane to other crops or even convert their lands for non-agricultural use. Lands devoted to sugarcane have already gone down from 424,132 hectares in CY2012-13 to just 397,524 hectares this crop year.

Importation of agricultural products is also a neo-liberal policy not limited to sugar but also that of other locally produced crops, including sugar. This is also peddled by the economic managers of the country’s government. At the same time, those who would benefit most from sugar importation would be softdrink manufacturers such as coke, which is a transnational corporation and confectioneries whose products are for the export market.

SRA’s projection of lower harvest of sugarcane is also disputable, given that as of March 27, 2022 the production of raw sugar was 1,537,261 MT or just lower by 0.03 compared to last crop year, while production of refined sugar as of the same date was already 568,341.25 MT or higher than 19.32% compared to the previous crop year.

Other than that, no sugar this crop year was exported while last crop year 112,008 MT of sugar was exported to the US. It would do well for the SRA, DA and for the Duterte regime for that matter to take care of its farmers and agriculture instead of resorting to massive imports which would bankrupt its farmers and destroy the sugarcane industry.

Source Verification:
Gi Estrada – Media Officer
09179450552