Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission on the Ongoing Armed Attacks and Harassment Against Agriworkers and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries in Madaum, Tagum City, Allegedly Perpetrated by Security Guards of Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC)
There is a need to immediately document and expose the ongoing attacks against the agricultural workers and agrarian reform beneficiaries in Madaum, Tagum City allegedly perpetrated by security guards of Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC). Various sectors, agrarian reform advocates and the general public must be made aware of the situation in Madaum and lend solidarity to the struggle of farmers and agricultural workers.
Three separate incidents of shooting by armed security of Lapanday Foods have been reported since December 9, the first day of a protest camp-out and land occupation organized and led by the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc (MARBAI) and the Unyon sa mga Mag-Uuma Alang Sa Tinood Nga Repormang Agraryo (UGMAD –TRA) or Farmers’ Union For Genuine Agrarian Reform) with the support of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-Uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC). The organizations are affiliated with the militant peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
Landgabbing by the LFC is the subject of the agriworkers’ protest. The current protest camp-out is within the 145-hectare banana plantation that has been awarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to 159 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in Madaum, Tagum City.
Farmers and agricultural workers had been picketing in front of the Lapanday gate for the past seven months, but decided to reclaim the land with support from other farmers’ groups on December 9. They successfully set up their camp-out despite harassment. A shooting incident occurred, where at least 31 shots were fired by armed security guards belonging to Lapanday’s hired security agency ACDISA.
Past 7:00 am, on December 12, around 20 armed guards barged into the protest camp. While protest leaders were holding a dialogue with the guards’ leader, they were indiscriminately shot at resulting in the wounding of 7 protesters, including a 16-year old minor.
The latest shooting incident occurred this morning, December 14. Three more protesters were wounded. A hostage-taking incident involving five farmers is also reported. Judith Lisao, Chairperson of ALMASID, a local KMP chapter, is reportedly among those held hostage by Lapanday security guards.
Background of the land dispute
The current DAR administration has been meeting with the farmers for their installation to the 145-hectare land as ordered by Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) Jose Nilo Tillano in a December 15, 2015 decision, which has long been final and executory.
According to Mely Yu, president of MARBAI, they were forced to enter a Banana Sales and Marketing Agreement with the LFC which buys their produce for export. They were tricked into selling high-grade bananas which were classified as poor for a lower price, thus resulting to a measly Php 2,000 monthly income. Because of this Agribusiness Venture Agreement (AVA), an oppresive and onerous scheme allowed by the DAR through its administrative orders, the farmer-beneficiaries became indebted to LFC for more or less a billion pesos.
Their lands were forcibly taken over by Lapanday in 2011 following a 2010 DAR decision upholding their right to the land parcel ceded by the mother cooperative. Despite their legal victories, the beneficiaries were kept out of their lands for the next six years. The agrarian reform beneficiaries were preparing to till the land after victory when 300 Lapanday guards and goons reportedly attacked the ARBs in 2011.
In the ten years from 1998 to 2008, clashes between restive beneficiaries and guards cost two lives and injured several from both sides of the conflict. Farmer leaders were also booted out of work and reinstated only after years of legal battle.
When the contract with Lapanday expired in 2009, the beneficiaries undertook a referendum for future plans. Majority voted to extend the contract, while 159 voted No. The nay-voters eventually reached an agreement with the mother cooperative, which allowed them to leave, ceding over 145 hectares covered by a document.
- Establish concrete facts on the shooting incidents against farmers and agriworkers
- Lend solidarity support for the members of MARBAI and UGMAD –TRA
- Document the onerous and exploitative Agribusiness Ventures Agreement (AVA) of MARBAI & LFC
- Work for ensuring justice for the victims of the attacks
EXPECTED RESULTS AND OUTCOME:
- Document and publish a report of the Fact Finding Mission for submission to pertinent government institutions to ensure justice for victims of the attacks
- Publicize the results of the FFM through the media
- Develop a publicity campaign on the issue in national and international levels
- Trip to Tagum
- Ocular inspection of the picket area
- Interview with MARBAI and UGMAD-TRA Officers and Members
- Interview with victims of shooting and hostage-taking incidents
- Interview with Security Guards (If possible)
- Interview with Lapanday Management (If possible)
- Consolidation of reports
- Press Conference
- Engagement with LGU and DAR
- Media Interviews