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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

“Cultural revolution” pursued in Escalante Massacre memorial

National agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) salutes the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA) and Teatro Obrero in its efforts to highlight the historical impact of the Escalante Massacre with a National Cultural Conference and Community Theatre Festival held in Escalante City, Negros Occidental from September 15-20.

The said activities, presented with support from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), will culminate today with the reenactment of the Escalante Massacre which happened exactly 31  years ago on September 20, 1985.

The cultural conference, co-presented by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), Sinagbayan, and other such groups brought together hundreds of cultural workers and activists from various national-democratic cultural organizations across the country to “strengthen the unity for a cultural revolution.”

UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos said that the Escalante Massacre  “is a stark reminder of the atrocities of the US-sponsored Marcos fascist dictatorship and the deep social inequalities in Negros and the rest of sugar-producing areas in the country still prevalent up to this day.”

The Escalante Massacre was the result of the violent assault against the 5,000-strong Welgang Bayan (People’s Strike) against Marcos held in Escalante on the 13th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. The rally was composed mainly of hacienda or sugar workers and other progressive sectors such as fisherfolk, students, urban poor, professionals and church people. It is remembered as “one of the most heinous incidents during the Marcos dictatorship.”

In Escalante City, the NFSW, NNAHRA, Martyr and the cultural organization Teatro Obrero have made commemoration activities particularly momentous with a yearly reenactment that involves the whole community. This year, hundreds of artists and cultural workers will participate in the event.

Ramos said that Escalante is one of the strongest reasons against a Hero’s Burial for Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. “We must not forget history, and the sacrifices of our martyrs as we continue to struggle against the same injustice, violent repression and exploitation under a backward, semifeudal set-up,” emphasized Ramos.

A report released by UMA and NFSW from its recently-concluded National Sugar Workers Summit, states that sugar cane field workers still endure slave-like wages, earning a maximum of only P1,000 weekly or P4,000 a month.  The “pakyaw” (group rate) system is also institutionalized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Negros Occidental by incorporating this oppressive wage scheme into the rates approved by its Regional Wage Board.

Such low pay is further exacerbated by the tiempo muerto (dead season) or off-milling season when hunger and destitution is felt especially in Negros Island. More than half of sugarcane in the country is produced in Negros.

“Artists and cultural workers who joined the theatre festival and conference vow to advance a ‘cultural revolution’ and must therefore push for social justice and peace and support the call for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization,” said Ramos.

“In Negros, where hacienderos have lorded over sugar workers since the Spanish era, unions and associations under the NFSW have embarked on land cultivation initiatives, tilling farmlots for food production as their militant assertion of land rights. The experience in Negros has empowered farmworkers to boost production, sustainable agriculture and organic farming practices through unity, cooperation and fierce struggle,” he added.

“The practice of land cultivation for food security in destitute sugar areas, especially during tiempo muerto, must be recognized, supported and replicated. The life-and-death struggle of sugar workers and our toiling masses – as in Escalante, Hacienda Luisita and many such realms of intense struggle  – must continue to become subjects of vivid cultural expression that should in turn resonate to serve the people, and strengthen the call to end exploitation, state violence and fascism, and imperialist domination,” ended Ramos.

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#Escam2016. Photos by Lisa Ito (CAP)

Genuine land reform must come next after SDO, AVA revocations

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DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano (right) led protests against the SDO in Hacienda Luisita. File photo from Anakpawis Partylist 

Agricultural workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) laud the recent announcement of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano on the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme in two Negros plantations and an Agribusiness Venture Arrangement (AVA) lease scheme at the Marsman Estate Plantations, Inc. (MEPI) in Southern Mindanao.

Mariano said that the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) revoked the AVA lease scheme at the MEPI, and the SDO scheme implemented at the Wuthrich Hermanos, Inc. in Calatrava town and SVJ Farms, Inc., in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, during the meeting led by President Rodrigo Duterte last September 12.

The rulings, which are largely in favor of farmworkers, have been pending with PARC since former President BS Aquino failed to convene the said agrarian reform body during his 6-year term.

UMA described the SDO and AVAs as anomalous schemes implemented under the pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos said that these schemes were used by big landlords and foreign agricorporations to evade land distribution.

“We welcome the rulings as we urge the Duterte administration to completely junk these ‘non-land transfer schemes’ that continue to deprive peasants and agricultural workers of their land rights. The SDO and various AVAs run counter to the fundamental land reform principle which is to provide land to the tiller,” said Ramos.

One prominent case is the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI), which was established by the Cojuangco-Aquino family to implement the oppressive SDO in 1989. Instead of receiving parcels of land, CARP beneficiaries in Luisita were made to believe that they have become “co-owners” or “stockholders” of HLI, even as they continued to slave away as underpaid farmworkers who received wages as low as Php 9.50 a week. The Supreme Court revoked the SDO in Hacienda Luisita in a landmark decision in 2012.

The SDO, however, is still in effect in 11 other landholdings while the DAR says that there are 433 existing AVA contracts covering some 57,000 hectares. AVAs are onerous contracts covering lease, leaseback, contract-growing, joint-venture, market-sharing and other schemes. The supposed beneficiaries, usually farmworkers, are reduced to their former status receiving low wages. Farmworkers usually lose any previous benefits because they are now considered “business partners” of their employers. According to a figure from the NEDA, there are as much 1.2 million hectares of land under various AVAs in 2013.

MEPI reportedly pushed for lease contracts among agrarian reform beneficiaries through bribery, coercion, and deception. A so-called “beneficiary trust fund” or BTF – the measly annual lease payment which was distributed to its workers as some kind of bonus – was deviously put in place by the MEPI in its banana plantations in Sto.Tomas, Davao del Norte.

“The CARP legalized and allowed multi-national and local corporations to maintain their control and operation of vast tracts of agricultural lands for as long as 50 years,” according to Ramos. “These AVAs legitimize the swindle of thousands of farmworkers.”

Meanwhile, agricultural workers in SDO areas still live in the feudal world of any typical hacienda. The only difference is that they receive measly dividends of P340 to P500 annually as their share as supposed co-owners of the corporation.

“The pro-peasant moves of the DAR and the Duterte government must be reinforced. The SDO and AVAs must be completely junked through the implementation of exhaustive socio-economic reforms and the enactment of a new land reform law that will replace the rotten legacy of the CARP,” said Ramos, referring to the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) filed as House Bill 555 by Anakpawis Partylist.

Sugar workers seek justice for slain peasant leader

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The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) continues to seek justice for slain peasant leader Ariel Diaz, who was also a delegate of UMA’s recently-concluded National Sugar Workers Summit held in Quezon City last August 30 – 31. Diaz was shot by unidentified gunmen in his farm in Villa Pereda, Delfin Albano, Isabela, barely a week after the activity, on September 7.

Diaz was the chairperson of DAGAMI, the local chapter of the militant peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Delfin Albano town, and the Inter-municipal Peasant Alliance Against Foreign Landgrabbing in Northern Isabela. Diaz was also part of the UMA organizing team in the said area.

UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos meanwhile welcomed the positive moves of the Duterte government through Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), to probe the killing of Diaz and the victims of the September 3 massacre of peasants in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

According to Ramos, Diaz was very active in forging sugar workers’ unities during the 2-day sugar summit. “Sugar workers’ issues and demands raised during the summit would be brought up with key government officials and legislators, as well as to the peace panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for consideration in the discussion and forging of a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER),” according to Ramos, who also said that copies of sugar workers’ consolidated report and demands would be sent to concerned officials and personalities.

“The killing of Diaz, and the violence and repression against all others before him is due to the same evils that perpetuate widespread poverty, hunger and unrest in the country. Peace cannot be achieved without justice,”said Ramos.

The forging of a CASER is described as the meat of the peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP –  or addressing the root causes of armed conflict to attain a just and lasting peace. This was also pointed out by LCP President and Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, who is also GRP Peace Panel adviser, when he stated that “it is precisely the issue of land that is the central mobilizing force of the almost five-decade armed revolution in the countryside.”

Ramos stated the the centuries-old problem of land monopoly and reign of big landlords and giant local and foreign agri-corporations was brought up during the summit. This includes the massive contract growing being imposed on farmers by bio-ethanol giant Green Future Innovations – Ecofuel Land Development Inc. in Isabela which was among Diaz’s advocacies.

Aside from land reform, the issues of trade liberalization and other destructive neoliberal policies in the sugar industry, slave-like wages, contractualization, diminution of benefits, corruption of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), militarization, political repression and human rights violations that were raised by delegates from Isabela, Tarlac, Batangas, Negros, Panay, Bukidnon, and Davao del Sur are reflected in the consolidated report of the National Sugar Workers’ Summit.

DOWNLOAD SUGAR WORKERS SUMMIT REPORT HERE

Justice for Ariel Diaz!

 

Peasant leader Ariel Diaz of DAGAMI-KMP Delfin Albano, Isabela will be buried today, September 12. As an organizer of farm workers under UMA, he recently attended the National Sugar Workers Summit held in Quezon City last August 30-31. Justice for Ka Ariel and all victims of political killings!

Agriworkers Condemn Killing of Organizer in Isabela

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the killing of peasant leader Ariel Diaz, by three unidentified armed men in his farm in Villa Pereda, Delfin Albano, Isabela.

His killing comes a few days after the massacre of four farmers inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Barangay San Isidro, Laur town in Nueva Ecija on September 3, 2016.

“We condemn the killing of Diaz as a brutal but cowardly act done to silence our farmers. The killings come at a time when peace talks and the necessary socio-economic reforms such as land reform and labor issues are being discussed by the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF),” observed Danilo Ramos, UMA Secretary General.

Diaz is the chairperson of DAGAMI, the local chapter of the militant peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Delfin Albano town, and the Inter-municipal Peasant Alliance Against Foreign Landgrabbing in Northern Isabela. Diaz is also part of the UMA organizing team in the said area.

According to the local UMA chapter in Isabela province, Diaz is active in various campaigns to expose big land issues in the province. The cases involve vast sugar and cassava plantations, so-called rebel returnee settlement sites  and the encroachment of a German solar power firm.

One of the biggest problems in Isabela is massive contract growing being imposed on farmers by bio-ethanol giant Green Future Innovations – Ecofuel Land Development Inc.

Ramos stated that the killings of five peasants in less than a week, and the earlier series of arrests of peasant leaders and advocates such as rural missionary Amelia Pond, appears to spoil the GRP-NDF peace talks, and may be the handiwork of those opposed to resolving the decades-long civil war in the country.

UMA however urged the parties to be even more determined to address and resolve the root causes of the armed conflict and violent incidents which led to the killing of Diaz and other victims of rights violations. “We demand justice for Diaz and all victims of political repression,” said Ramos.

 

 

 

 

Unity Statement: National Sugar Workers Summit 2016

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DEKLARASYON NG PAGKAKAISA

Ikalawang Pambansang Pagtitipon ng mga Manggagawa sa Asukal
2nd National Sugar Workers Summit
Agosto 30-31, 2016

Kami, mga lider at kinatawan ng mga unyon, asosasyon at organisasyon ng mga manggagawang-bukid sa tubuhan at mga manggagawang agrikultural sa ilohan ng asukal at planta ng bioethanol na matatagpuan sa iba’t ibang sulok ng bansa, ngayon ay nagkakaisa sa pagtataguyod at pagtatanggol sa interes, kagalingan at kapakanan ng aming hanay.

Kami ay nagpupursige sa pagpapatatag ng aming pagkakaisa sa pamamagitan ng aming mga lokal na unyon at samahan sa ilalim ng National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), at sa Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), bilang pampulitikang sentro ng pakikibaka ng lahat ng mga manggagawang agrikultural sa bansa.

Nagkakaisa kami ngayon sa mapangahas na pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa at pagpapakilos sa aming hanay, paglulunsad ng malawak na propaganda at pampulitikang edukasyon, at pagkakasa ng mga lokal na kampanya at pakikibakang masa at pambansang koordinadong pagkilos, upang makamit ang sumusunod na mga layunin:

1.Ipatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Ipamahagi ang lupa sa mga magsasaka, manggagawa sa agrikultura at manggagawang-bukid. Wakasan na ang monopolyo sa lupa ng mga panginoong maylupa at mga lokal at dayuhang agrikorporasyon sa bansa. Ibasura at itigil ang iba’t ibang iskema na nagkakait sa karapatan sa lupa ng mga magbubukid gaya ng Stock Distribution Option (SDO), at mga Agribusiness Venture Agreement (AVA) tulad ng leaseback, contract growing, corporative scheme; sugar block farming; at rentahan o aryendo. Kamtin ang lupa at hustisya para sa mga manggagawang-bukid sa Hacienda Luisita at sa buong bansa.

2.Para sa kagalingan ng magbubukid at pag-unlad ng ekonomiya, isabatas at ipatupad ang Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) na isinumite bilang House Bill 555 ng Anakpawis Partylist at Makabayan bloc ngayong ika-17 Kongreso.

3.Ibasura ang liberalisasyon sa industriya ng asukal at agrikultura ng bansa na kaakibat ng deregulasyon, pribatisasyon at denasyunalisasyon o mga neoliberal na dikta ng imperyalistang globalisasyon. Ibaklas ang agrikultura ng bansa sa General Agreeement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) at iba pang di-pantay na kasunduan sa ekonomya at kalakalan.

4.Itaas ang sahod ng mga manggagawa sa mga ilohan, planta, at manggagawang-bukid sa tubuhan. Itakwil ang sahod-alipin sa mga manggagawang agrikultural na dulot ng iskemang pakyaw, at iba pang anyo ng paglabag sa mandated daily minimum wage sa mga manggagawa sa agrikultura. Ipatupad ang pambansang minimum na sa sahod na Php 750 kada araw para sa mga manggagawa sa pribadong sektor, kasama na rito ang mga manggagawa sa asukal.

5.Itaguyod ang ligtas at makataong kondisyon sa paggawa at kaseguruhan sa trabaho. Itigil ang kontraktwalisasyon. Parusahan ang mga lumalabag sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa at mga kaso ng pagpapabaya sa kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga manggagawa sa mga lugar ng trabaho.

6.Maagap na ayuda o tulong para sa mga manggagawang agrikultural at manggagawang-bukid sa tubuhan sa panahon ng tiempo muerto o off-milling season, at sa tuwing may mga sakuna at kalamidad.

7. Ibalik sa mga manggagawa sa tubuhan at ilohan ang Sugar Amelioration Fund (SAF). Direktang ipamahagi ang SAF sa mga benepisyaryo sa pamamagitan ng mga unyon, samahan, organisasyon o kooperatiba ng mga manggagawang agrikultural. Ituloy ang malawakang imbestigasyon sa istatus ng implementasyon ng Social Amelioration Program (SAP) at Social Amelioration and Welfare Program (SAWP) sa industriya ng asukal at biofuel. Itulak ang kabuuang awdit sa pondo ng mga ito at maging sa mga proyekto, istruktura o ari-arian na naipundar nang dahil sa SAP at SAWP.

8.Maglaan ng lupaing mapapagtanman ng pagkain para sa mga manggagawang agrikultural sa mga asyenda at plantasyon. Suportahan at kilalanin ang sama-samang bungkalan at mga inisyatiba ng mga magbubukid para sa seguridad sa pagkain.

9.Itigil ang land-use at crop conversion sa mga tubuhan, na para diumano sa mga “proyektong pangkaunlaran” at agresibong ekspansyon ng mga dambuhalang plantasyon na kontrolado ng mga dayuhang agrikorporasyong MNC at TNC. Ang mga ito ay nagdudulot ng marahas na pagpapalayas at pangangamkam, kagutuman, at pagkasira ng kalikasan sa mga komunidad ng magbubukid at manggagawa sa agrikultura.

10. Ipatupad ang pambansang industriyalisasyon at mga kongkretong hakbang sa pagpapaunlad ng industriya ng asukal at biofuel nang may malalim na pagsasaalang-alang sa kagalingan at kapakanan ng mga manggagawa sa industriya; sa pangangailangan sa konsumo ng mamamayang Pilipino; at sa pagpapaunlad ng iba pang lokal na industriya na nakadepende sa mga produktong mula sa tubo.

11. Itigil ang militarisasyon sa kanayunan, pampulitikang panunupil, pamamaslang at paglabag sa karapatang tao. Hustisya para sa mga biktima. Ibasura ang gawa-gawang kaso laban sa mga manggagawa at magbubukid. Karampatang bayad-pinsala sa mga sinirang pananim at ari-arian ng mga biktima. Palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal.

12. Suportahan ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng Gobyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas at Pambansa-Demokratikong Prente ng Pilipinas (GPH-NDFP peace talks) lalo na hinggil sa pagtalakay at pagkakasundo sa kinakailangang mga sosyo-ekonomikong reporma gaya ng tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Ang malalim na pagtalakay at pagresolba sa mga ugat ng armadong tunggalian ang siyang tutugon sa hinaing ng mamamayang naghihimagsik at magdudulot ng makatarungan at pangmatalagang kapayapaan sa ating bayan.

Pinagtibay ngayong ika-31 ng Agosto, 2016, sa Ikalawang Pambansang Pagtitipon ng mga Manggagawa sa Asukal (2nd National Sugar Workers Summit) sa DOLE Occupational Safety and Health Center, Lungsod Quezon.

Nilagdaan ng mga kinatawan ng sumusunod na unyon at organisasyon ng mga manggagawa sa asukal:

DANILO RAMOS, Pangkalahatang Kalihim
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

HERNANE BARROS, Pangkalahatang Kalihim
National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)
Negros Island Region

KAISAHAN – Batangas, Southern Tagalog

Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA),
Tarlac, Central Luzon

UMA- Isabela, Cagayan Valley

OGYON-Bukidnon, North Central Mindanao

Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur (NAMADDS), Far-South Mindanao

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DEKLARASYON NG PAGKAKAISA

 

Ikalawang Pambansang Pagtitipon ng mga Manggagawa sa Asukal

2nd National Sugar Workers Summit

Agosto 30-31, 2016

 

Kami, mga lider at kinatawan ng mga unyon, asosasyon at organisasyon ng mga manggagawang-bukid sa tubuhan at mga manggagawang agrikultural sa ilohan ng asukal at planta ng bioethanol na matatagpuan sa iba’t ibang sulok ng bansa, ngayon ay nagkakaisa sa pagtataguyod at pagtatanggol sa interes, kagalingan at kapakanan ng aming hanay.

 

Kami ay nagpupursige sa pagpapatatag ng aming pagkakaisa sa pamamagitan ng aming mga lokal na unyon at samahan sa ilalim ng National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), at sa Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), bilang pampulitikang sentro ng pakikibaka ng lahat ng mga manggagawang agrikultural sa bansa.

 

Nagkakaisa kami ngayon sa mapangahas na pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa at pagpapakilos sa aming hanay, paglulunsad ng malawak na propaganda at pampulitikang edukasyon, at pagkakasa ng mga lokal na kampanya at pakikibakang masa at pambansang koordinadong pagkilos, upang makamit ang sumusunod na mga layunin:

 

Ipatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Ipamahagi ang lupa sa mga magsasaka, manggagawa sa agrikultura at manggagawang-bukid. Wakasan na ang monopolyo sa lupa ng mga panginoong maylupa at mga lokal at dayuhang agrikorporasyon sa bansa. Ibasura at itigil ang iba’t ibang iskema na nagkakait sa karapatan sa lupa ng mga magbubukid gaya ng Stock Distribution Option (SDO), at mga Agribusiness Venture Agreement (AVA) tulad ng leaseback, contract growing, corporative scheme; sugar block farming; at rentahan o aryendo. Kamtin ang lupa at hustisya para sa mga manggagawang-bukid sa Hacienda Luisita at sa buong bansa.

 

Para sa kagalingan ng magbubukid at pag-unlad ng ekonomiya, isabatas at ipatupad ang Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) na isinumite bilang House Bill 555 ng Anakpawis Partylist at Makabayan bloc ngayong ika-17 Kongreso.

 

Ibasura ang liberalisasyon sa industriya ng asukal at agrikultura ng bansa na kaakibat ng deregulasyon, pribatisasyon at denasyunalisasyon o mga neoliberal na dikta ng imperyalistang globalisasyon. Ibaklas ang agrikultura ng bansa sa General Agreeement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) at iba pang di-pantay na kasunduan sa ekonomya at kalakalan.

 

Itaas ang sahod ng mga manggagawa sa mga ilohan, planta, at manggagawang-bukid sa tubuhan. Itakwil ang sahod-alipin sa mga manggagawang agrikultural na dulot ng iskemang pakyaw, at iba pang anyo ng paglabag sa mandated daily minimum wage sa mga manggagawa sa agrikultura. Ipatupad ang pambansang minimum na sa sahod na Php 750 kada araw para sa mga manggagawa sa pribadong sektor, kasama na rito ang mga manggagawa sa asukal.

 

Itaguyod ang ligtas at makataong kondisyon sa paggawa at kaseguruhan sa trabaho. Itigil ang kontraktwalisasyon. Parusahan ang mga lumalabag sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa at mga kaso ng pagpapabaya sa kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga manggagawa sa mga lugar ng trabaho.

 

Maagap na ayuda o tulong para sa mga manggagawang agrikultural at manggagawang-bukid sa tubuhan sa panahon ng tiempo muerto o off-milling season, at sa tuwing may mga sakuna at kalamidad.

 

Ibalik sa mga manggagawa sa tubuhan at ilohan ang Sugar Amelioration Fund (SAF). Direktang ipamahagi ang SAF sa mga benipisyaryo sa pamamagitan ng mga unyon, samahan, organisasyon o kooperatiba ng mga manggagawang agrikultural. Ituloy ang malawakang imbestigasyon sa istatus ng implementasyon ng Social Amelioration Program (SAP) at Social Amelioration and Welfare Program (SAWP) sa industriya ng asukal at biofuel. Itulak ang kabuuang awdit sa pondo ng mga ito at maging sa mga proyekto, istruktura o ari-arian na naipundar nang dahil sa SAP at SAWP.

 

Maglaan ng lupaing mapapagtanman ng pagkain para sa mga manggagawang agrikultural sa mga asyenda at plantasyon. Suportahan at kilalanin ang sama-samang bungkalan at mga inisyatiba ng mga magbubukid para sa seguridad sa pagkain.

 

Itigil ang land-use at crop conversion sa mga tubuhan, na para diumano sa mga “proyektong pangkaunlaran” at agresibong ekspansyon ng mga dambuhalang plantasyon na kontrolado ng mga dayuhang agrikorporasyong MNC at TNC. Ang mga ito ay nagdudulot ng marahas na pagpapalayas at pangangamkam, kagutuman, at pagkasira ng kalikasan sa mga komunidad ng magbubukid at manggagawa sa agrikultura.

 

Ipatupad ang pambansang industriyalisasyon at mga kongkretong hakbang sa pagpapaunlad ng industriya ng asukal at biofuel nang may malalim na pagsasaalang-alang sa kagalingan at kapakanan ng mga manggagawa sa industriya; sa pangangailangan sa konsumo ng mamamayang Pilipino; at sa pagpapaunlad ng iba pang lokal na industriya na nakadepende sa mga produktong mula sa tubo.

 

Itigil ang militarisasyon sa kanayunan, pampulitikang panunupil, pamamaslang at paglabag sa karapatang tao. Hustisya para sa mga biktima. Ibasura ang gawa-gawang kaso laban sa mga manggagawa at magbubukid. Karampatang bayad-pinsala sa mga sinirang pananim at ari-arian ng mga biktima. Palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal.

 

Suportahan ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng Gobyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas at Pambansa-Demokratikong Prente ng Pilipinas (GPH-NDFP peace talks) lalo na hinggil sa pagtalakay at pagkakasundo sa kinakailangang mga sosyo-ekonomikong reporma gaya ng tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Ang malalim na pagtalakay at pagresolba sa mga ugat ng armadong tunggalian ang siyang tutugon sa hinaing ng mamamayang naghihimagsik at magdudulot ng makatarungan at pangmatalagang kapayapaan sa ating bayan.

 

Pinagtibay ngayong ika-31 ng Agosto, 2016, sa Ikalawang Pambansang Pagtitipon ng mga Manggagawa sa Asukal (2nd National Sugar Workers Summit) sa DOLE Occupational Safety and Health Center, Lungsod Quezon.

 

 

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Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

 

 

 

 

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National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)

Negros Island

 

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Kaisahan – Batangas

 

 

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Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita

 

 

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UMA- Isabela, Cagayan Valley

 

 

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Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers indeed restless

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DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano (left) shakes hands with Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, UMA Secretary General, in a dialogue between the DAR and Hacienda Luisita farmworkers last month.

 

This is our response to Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante Ang’s article – “Is DAR Secretary Mariano undermining Duterte?”  which appeared on the front page of The Manila Times on August 21, 2016.

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers indeed restless

Allow us to humbly emphasize to Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante Ang that he got it horribly wrong when he wrote that Hacienda Luisita farmworker beneficiaries (FWBs) are getting restless – only because they would want to go ahead with so-called “industrial development” of a 500-hectare disputed area within the controversial sugar estate.

Dr. Ang is indeed correct in describing Hacienda Luisita farmworkers as “restless.” But this restlessness – more of dread and disgust – is directed and due mainly to the systemic violence, deception and landgrabbing inflicted upon them by one Cojuangco-Aquino cacique president after another.

In so many words, the new Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano was unfairly painted by Dr. Ang as a mere troublemaker who is deliberately undermining President Duterte’s vision, just to supposedly further the Left’s agenda. Duterte even describes himself as a “Leftist” – why then should there be reason for alarm? For Luisita farmworkers, Ka Paeng who has been marching among their ranks for decades, embodies their aspirations for genuine land reform and social justice. The Ka Paeng of the peasant movement, even now that he is at the DAR’s helm, never fails to stress the weight of the people’s movement and collective struggle which Luisita farmworkers have been waging for so long despite all odds.

Let us stop spreading worn out, malicious intrigues against Leftists in the Duterte administration. Let us instead focus on the real monsters.

Under the rule of the haciendero heir BS Aquino and his minions within his erstwhile yellow enclaves at the DAR, the Tarlac courts, government units, and police and military establishment – the 2012 landmark Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita has atrociously come to this:

Aquino implemented “tambiolo land reform” or land reform by draw lots that resulted in massive dislocation, confusion, and conflict among beneficiaries and residents. This scheme only enabled the reconcentration of land back to the Cojuangco-Aquinos through their dummy financiers called “aryendadors” who promoted the illicit lease and sale of farmlots. In short, the so-called “land distribution” accomplished by Aquino was nothing but a complete sham.

The yellow DAR deliberately excluded more than a thousand hectares of land for distribution. These areas are still under the effective control of different corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquinos such as the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), Luisita Realty Corporation, Luista Land, Central Azucarera de Tarlac and other firms. This is contrary to the DAR’s own land reform mandate and the Supreme Court order for the DAR to subject all other agricultural lands in Luisita for distribution.

Under the yellow DAR, several trumped-up criminal cases were filed against leaders and members of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA*) to intimidate and harass the organized ranks of farmworkers and their supporters. Justice remains elusive to victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the spate of extrajudicial killings in Luisita since 2004, even as fresh human rights violations are being committed such as bulldozing of crops, burning of homes, mauling and illegal arrests.

Militarization persists inside Hacienda Luisita. The company headquarters of the 31st IB 3rd Mechanized Battalion is located right in the middle of the TADECO disputed area in Barangay Balete. Paramilitary CAFGU detachments are found in almost all barangays of Hacienda Luisita.

To seek land distribution of 500 hectares of idle, but prime agricultural land is but just, especially now that whole farming communities were displaced by Aquino’s tambiolo land reform. AMBALA in fact seeks to nullify the whole sham land reform process instituted by BS Aquino and correct all the injustices against farmworkers.

AMBALA sought to revoke the conversion order issued by DAR covering 500 hectares of land under the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) in January 2012, before the SC released its final and executory decision. The area is now controlled by RCBC, the Luisita Industrial Park, Co, and Luisita Land.

Up to now, the Cojuangcos have not paid the FWBs its debt of P1.33 billion or the farmworkers’ share from the sale of HLI assets, including the 500-hectare area under dispute. The previous DAR maneuvered to ensure that the Cojuangco-Aquinos had a say in the auditing process, effectively causing its delay. Other than this, there is a need to investigate the anomalous construction of a solar power plant in the disputed area. The plant is a public-private partnership project approved by BS Aquino with PetroGreen, a sister company of RCBC. Such project was never the purpose of land conversion when HLI’s request was granted by DAR way back in 1996.

The previous DAR’s own deliberate sluggishness made the petition for revocation “dormant.” The petition was never acted upon even as violence, outright bribery and evil maneuvers were being unleashed by RCBC and the Cojuangcos against farmworkers through “Oplan April Spring.” Disinformation and intrigue – branding the farmworkers as mere “anti-development troublemakers” and projecting the landlords and landgrabbers as virtuous, benevolent saviors – characterize this dirty ploy. The evil “April Spring” attack against farmworkers only steeled AMBALA’s organized ranks to carry on with the struggle.

To describe Hacienda Luisita farmworkers – or principled peasant leaders such as Ka Paeng – as anti-development or anti-industrialization is to expose our ignorance, the prejudice and contempt many of us have against the peasantry’s just struggle for genuine land reform.  Progress and development must spring from genuine land reform and national industrialization – not from violent evictions, landgrabbing, exploitation and oppression long practiced by oligarchs such as the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

DANILO RAMOS
Secretary General
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

 

*AMBALA is UMA’s local affiliate in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac.

#TiempoMuerto: Sa Hacienda Ilimnan, Murcia, Negros Occidental

Short video on the plight of farmworkers during tiempo muerto (dead season), the season between planting and harvesting of sugarcane. Produced by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). Tiempo Muerto is also a media monitoring project launched by UMA with support from the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).

Thanks to the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) – Negros and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP).

Camera: Amel Sabangan, Nadja de Vera
Editing: Amel Sabangan
Translation: Mike Concepcion

#TiempoMuerto: Genuine land reform is key to end yearly “dead season”

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Nanay Lani holds up her pay slip. Photo by Nadja de Vera (Concerned Artists of the Philippines

BACOLOD CITY – Nanay Lani holds up her pay slip, a small piece of paper more akin to a list of dues that the kind proprietor of your neighborhood sari-sari store hands you to emphasize that you cannot get any more “credit” (utang or debt). The pay slip is handed to Nanay Lani by the hacienda’s enkargado (supervisor) every 15 days, usually to prove that she will only take home less than a hundred pesos in cash for her toil as farmworker in the sugarcane fields.

“Here,” Nanay Lani shows the piece of paper, “I took home only Php 43.42 for 15 days work.” That she earned during the boom of harvest and milling season. She takes home a measly amount because her debts from the hacienda’s “cooperative store” for rice and other supplies were already deducted.

“Now it’s tiempo muerto (dead season) and work is scarce. Even if we get some work, we no longer take home any cash. We even incur so much debt during this tiggulutom (season of hunger),” she says.

Her face melts into an anguished expression. This annual crisis period tiempo muerto the locals also call tigkiriwi – an odd period when the sugar industry’s work force collectively grumbles in hunger and pain.

In Bacolod City, the capital of the country’s reputed “sugar bowl” Negros Occidental province, farmworkers are now on the third day of tiempo muerto-related protests led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)-Negros and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), the local affiliate of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

Last Wednesday, hundreds of farmworkers like Nanay Lani tore up their pay slips in a picket in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office here in the city. Protests were also held in Escalante City, 63 kilometers north of Bacolod.

Today, farmworkers from different municipalities will converge at the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol to form a human chain. Sugar workers demand that the provincial government’s Php 40 M calamity funds, and the multi-million Social Amelioration Fund (SAF) handled by DOLE, be utilized to provide immediate relief to affected sugar workers. This year, tiempo muerto is aggravated by drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon. The province declared a state of calamity last April.

NFSW Chairperson Rolando Rillo says that farmworkers are not totally helpless during this crisis period. “Negros has a long history of struggle against exploitation and oppression by the island’s elite who also hold powerful positions or influence in national politics,” said Rillo.

The continued reign of the so-called “old rich,” the Marcos cronies like Danding Cojuangco and the Benedictos, and present-day despots like the Governor Maranon, prove that Negros remains a playground of caciques and landlords. Peasant unrest is constant.

UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos, who joined the local protests, said that aside from immediate aid, government must support farmworkers asserting their land rights. In many areas, organized farmworkers have already embarked on land cultivation initiatives. But these bungkalan areas most often meet violent opposition from the landlords.

“The failure of the government’s land reform program CARP is most visible here in Negros. Farmworkers will not have to beg for aid during tiempo muerto if their initiatives for food security are given full support,” said Ramos.

One current controversial case is that of Hacienda Ilimnan in Sta. Rosa, Murcia town, a dispute-ridden landholding whose case the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently resolved in favor of farmworkers.

Contesting this decision is no less than Gov. Maranon, who deployed armed military and police to evict and harass farmworkers tilling a 12-hectare area last month. The farmworkers still stay in a makeshift camp-out within the Capitol compound to protest land grabbing and militarization.

Life is indeed bitter for our toiling sugar workers but their organized ranks are determined to wage various struggles to end hunger and the tiempo muerto.

In Congress, UMA supports the passage of the House Bill 555, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) proposed by Anakpawis Partylist. Ramos also called on the Duterte administration to heed the farmworkers’ demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization.

“Tiempo Muerto will continue to be a season of hunger and death for sugar workers every year, if the country’s fundamental land problem is not seriously addressed,” ended Ramos.

Reference:     ROLANDO O. RILLO, Chairman, (MP No. 09462134157)
National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)

 

#Tiempo Muerto | Sugar workers still endure pakyaw, slave-like wage rates

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Protesting farmworkers tear up their payslips in front of the DOLE Regional Office in Bacolod City

BACOLOD CITY – “Tiempo Muerto” protests here in the country’s sugar bowl entered its second day today, as affected farmworkers trooped to concerned government institutions to hold picket-dialogues with local officials.

Tiempo Muerto (dead season) or the annual off-milling season in the sugar industry spells extreme hunger and bitter suffering for the thousands of affected farm workers and their dependents in Negros Island. During this lull between planting and harvest, workers are left without any source of income.

Yesterday, farmworkers led by the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Negros were joined by Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Secretary General Danilo Ramos in protests in Bacolod City. NFSW member unions and associations in Escalante City, 63 kilometers north of Bacolod, also held protest marches and camp-outs to demand government aid.

Ramos said that farm workers have been suffering under slave-like conditions since the establishment of the hacienda system. “Sugar farmworkers endure perennial hunger and poverty year-in, year-out since the Spanish colonial period. But conditions are far worse during tiempo muerto.”

UMA said that hunger during off-milling season is also felt in other major sugar-producing areas such as Bukidnon, Isabela, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas; and Leyte and Panay islands. Minimum wage rates prescribed by regional wage boards are blatantly violated by hacienderos and aryendadors who perpetuate the oppressive “pakyaw” or piece-rate scheme.

Government statistics show that 30.5% of families in Region VI where Negros Occidental used to belong live in poverty, while in Negros Oriental, the figure is 46.6% of families. In Bukidnon province, the largest  sugar cane producing area next to Negros Island, 58.7% of families live in poverty.

“Wages can be as low as Php 13 a day in Isabela, while Php 200 a day is the highest average daily wage rate in all other areas. But we should remember that the hacienda system is also wrought with feudal patronage and usury. The encargados, or supervisors even frown upon workers who can take home more than a hundred pesos in cash for their weekly toil – it is still very common for workers to use up all their wages through debts in the hacienda’s management or ‘cooperative’ store even before they actually receive the money,” said Ramos.

“During tiempo muerto, wages can go as low as Php 500 for 15 days work, that is if the hacienda can even provide work for the dumaan (regular hacienda workers). How about the sakada (seasonal migratory workers)? How does government expect them to survive under these circumstances?”

Sugar workers demand that the provincial government’s Php 40 M calamity funds, and the multi-million Social Amelioration Fund (SAF) handled by DOLE, be utilized to provide immediate relief to affected sugar workers.

Aside from immediate aid, UMA also called on the Duterte administration to heed the farmworkers’ demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization. “Tiempo Muerto will continue to be a season of hunger and death for sugar workers every year, if the country’s fundamental land problem is not seriously addressed,” ended Ramos.

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Protests are also ongoing in Escalante City in Northern Negros.

 

Negros Sugar Workers Hold “Tiempo Muerto” Protests

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BACOLOD CITY – Tiempo Muerto (dead season) or the annual off-milling season in the sugar industry spells extreme hunger and bitter suffering for the thousands of affected farm workers and their dependents here in the country’s reputed “sugar bowl.” During this lull between planting and harvest, workers are left without any source of income.

Danilo Ramos, Secretary General of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), joins sugar workers from different Negros Occidental municipalities in protests here in Bacolod City today, as they demand immediate aid from concerned government institutions such as the Departments of Labor (DOLE), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Provincial Government.

“Sugar workers bear the brunt of tiempo muerto every year. They try to look for other modes of decent employment or livelihood but these are obviously scarce because Negros – in this day and age – is still dominated by a decrepit monocrop industry and by centuries-old feudal oppression,” said Ramos. Land monopoly and the traditional reign of hacienderos is still very much pronounced in Negros Region, where around 48% of Philippine sugarcane is produced.

The protest actions which will run until August 12 are led by the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), UMA’s local affiliate in Negros, and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Negros.

Since June, or since the waning of the sugarcane harvest and milling season, farm workers have begun staging local protests and campaigns to ease the effects of tiempo muerto in various Negros municipalities and sugar districts such as Murcia, Don Salvador Benedicto, Talisay City, Silay City, EB Magalona, Manapla, and Escalante City. Tiempo Muerto will last until mid-September, when some of the haciendas begin cane harvest.

NFSW Chairperson Roland Rillo said that the protests are for the sugar workers’ very survival, as the dreaded tiempo muerto crisis period has “had a double whammy effect on sugar workers this year.” Like many other Philippine provinces, Negros Occidental was also hit by drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon since late last year until the first quarter of this year.

According to NFSW, the sugar haciendas can only offer “budgeted work” during tiempo muerto, usually non-productive tasks with fixed rates of only P500 to P1,000 every 15 days on average. “It redounds to a measly P8.33 to P16.66 budget per head per day for a family of hacienda workers with 4 members,” said Rillo.

On the other hand, sugar barons and mill owners who belong to the so-called “old rich” profit from the sweat and blood of their workers. A recent survey conducted by NFSW shows that sugar planters – or the usual hacienderos and their‘aryendador’ (lease agents or financiers) scions — amass an average of Php 80,000 net income from a 1-hectare sugarcane farm.

Sugar workers demand that the provincial government’s Php 40 M calamity funds, and the multi-million Social Amelioration Fund (SAF) handled by DOLE, be utilized to provide immediate relief to affected sugar workers.

Aside from immediate aid, UMA also called on the Duterte administration to heed the farmworkers’ demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization. “Tiempo Muerto will continue to be a season of hunger and death for sugar workers every year, if the country’s fundamental land problem is not seriously addressed,” ended Ramos.

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Press Release

Reference:       ROLANDO O. RILLO
Chairman, (MP No. 09462134157)
National Federation of Sugar Workers
August 10, 2016, Bacolod City

SUGAR WORKERS HOLD PROTEST FOR SURVIVAL

Hundreds of hacienda workers belonging to the National Federation of Sugar Workers and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Negros will troop to the Department of Labor and Employment, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and to the Provincial Government starting today until August 12, 2016 for this year’s “Tiempo Muerto”.

“We will ask the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that the unclaimed and undistributed Social Amelioration Fund (SAF), which already accumulated to millions of pesos, be used to aid us in this period”.

“Budgeted work in many haciendas now earns us an average of only P500 to P1,000 every 15 days”. It redounds to a measly P8.33 to P16.66 budget per head per day for a family of hacienda workers with 4 members.

A recent survey conducted by NFSW shows an average of P80,000.00 net income for planters from a 1 Hectare farmland planted by sugar cane.

This year’s Tiempo Muerto had a double whammy effect on the sugar workers as it coincided to El Nino Phenomenon that hit the province late last year until the first quarter of this year.

In fact, the provincial government declares state of calamity last April 2016 due to drought brought by the El Nino Phenomenon which authorized the Governor to use the Quick Respond Funds amounting to P40M. “We will ask the Governor where now this fund goes.”

“We will also call the attention of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office for food aid in this time of crisis”.

The irony is that Tiempo Muerto is realities that even our government officials and government agencies knows it occurs every year but did nothing seriously to root out its cause.

Tiempo Muerto or Dead Season is an annual calamity to the families of 385,000 sugar workers in Negros. It is a phenomenon since Spanish period that firmly tied up to hunger and poverty of the sugarworkers.

The 28 years implementation of the government land reform program failed to break the socio economic set-up of land monopoly and hacienda system which gives birth to Tiempo Muerto Phenomenon every year.

“If the government is sincere enough to help us, they should pass the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill in Congress and initiate economic programs that truly break us free from perennial poverty in many haciendas”.

“We call on the Governor of this province and other concern agencies to release food assistance to the Sugar Workers”. “Stop Tiempos Muertos!”

(Bacolod City, Negros Island, August 10, 2016)