Military Should Pull Out of Workers Strike Area in Mindanao

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66th IB personnel entered back the packing plant of Shin Sun tropical Corp

If GRP chief peace negotiator to the NDFP, Sec. Silvestre Bello III is saying that martial law in Mindanao is not meant to target the left, then he should order the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army to withdraw from a Korean owned banana plantation in Compostela Valley plagued by a labor dispute.

According to Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), elements of the 66th IB occupied the packing plant of Shin Sun Tropical Corp. on the night of May 24. Martial law was declared in Mindanao on the same day.

Earlier death threats were made on May 23 on the organizers of said strike. Its members are affiliated with Shin Sun Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU. 80 of its workers staged a strike on March 16 for being dismissed by the company because of labor only contracting.

The 66th IB has been harassing them and the workers have been accused of being members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA). It is just one of too many cases of legitimate labor disputes being criminalized by state security forces.

Ironically, Sec. Bello is also the head of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Besides ordering the military from pulling out of the strike area, the DOLE should also take jurisdiction of the case and act favorably on the demands of the workers.

Martial law or no martial law, this should be always the case.

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Oligarchs and Multinationals to Benefit from Martial Law in Mindanao

Business as usual, that is the reaction today of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao as only oligarchs and multinationals will benefit from this.

This was ensured by one of the most rightist and pro-neoliberal member of President Duterte’s cabinet, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. He was one of those who persuaded the chief executive to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, even if fighting on the so-called Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups were only confined in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

UMA is also one with the people of Marawi City in condemning on the violence inflicted on them by these groups, but at the same time in using this as an excuse to declare martial law.

According to Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of UMA, it is calling on its members nationwide to oppose martial law in Mindanao and its possible extension to the whole country. He added that martial law will only further suppress the labor, land and human rights of agricultural workers and of the Filipino people.

Such is the case of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI). They were installed by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano back to their lands grabbed by Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) on May 18 this year on the orders of President Duterte himself.

Recent reports though indicate that LFC guards are harassing MARBAI members and their supporters. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao might embolden said oligarch owned company to once again forcibly eject them from their lands.

Another is the continued harassment and death threats made on May 23 by elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army on striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Corp in Compostela Valley.

The company is a Korean owned banana plantation and 80 of its workers staged a strike on March 16 for being dismissed by the company because of labor only contracting. Its members are affiliated with Shin Sun Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU.

All organizers and members of agricultural workers in Mindanao are at risk of being attacked by state security forces as Defense Chief Lorenzana branded the place as a haven of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

Agricultural workers should emulate the example of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) which was organized in 1971 or a year before the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. NFSW in coordination with UMA will hold a Congress this coming May 30-31 in Bacolod City to re-establish itself as a national federation.

Even when Marcos declared martial law, NFSW continued to successfully organize sugar workers in the fields and mills across the island even with arrests made on their ranks. A number of them also joined the armed resistance against the dictatorship.

Because of the intense exploitation and oppression against the sugar workers, NFSW was able to expand up to the 80’s and it was even a founding member of the KMU. It also contributed immensely to the ouster of Marcos from power in 1986 despite suffering deaths during the Escalante massacre a year before that.

Agricultural workers already have their own organizations in Mindanao and have been steeled in struggle as their collective actions like in the rest of the country have been met by fascist attacks. They should be ready to face further attacks because of the declaration of martial law and engage in all forms of struggle necessary.

They have the support of the Filipino peasantry, workers and people in defending their labor, land and human rights and in shouting never again to martial law. President Duterte should lift martial law because even if it is very harsh, the people would definitely struggle and win against it.18698676_1385240054892079_833020321_o.jpg

MARBAI Farmers Serve Lapanday ‘Notice to Vacate’ Agrarian Reform Lands

vacateIn a protest action a day before going back to Mindanao to affirm their resolve to continue with their installation on the land, farmers belonging to the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) and their supporters today served a ‘Notice to Vacate’ to Lapanday Foods Corporation’s (LFC) Makati office today. The farmers also symbolically padlocked the main gate of LFC.
“These symbolic actions are a prelude to what will happen in the coming days,” said Danilo Ramos of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.
One hundred MARBAI farmers served the notice together with supporters from multi-sectoral groups from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Anakpawis Partylist.
“Lapanday should abide by the President Duterte’s directive to return the land to us,” stated Antonio Tuyak, spokesperson of MARBAI.
During a dialogue with the farmers in Mendiola on May 9, Duterte said the lands do not belong to Lapanday and that it should be returned to its rightful owners. “We expect to be installed on the 145-hectares of land next week,” Tuyak said.
The determination and strong resolve of the MARBAI farmers to claim back their lands from LFC was crucial in persuading the President to give his support to their cause.
MARBAI, together with other farmers in Mindanao have been campaigning for almost a year which culminated in their reclaiming of their lands on Dec. 9 despite harassment and violence inflicted upon them by security guards and goons of LFC which resulted in the wounding of ten farmers in two shooting incidents on Dec. 12 and 14.
LFC guards were able to forcibly evict them on Dec. 31, but they did not falter as they held strong their camp outside the LFC compound in San Isidro Tagum City.
Fify-nine of them went to Manila and started a camp-out at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) main office in Quezon City to demand the fast-tracking of their installation.
However, the local Philippine National Police (PNP) refused to assist them in their installation, exposing its subservience to the oligarch Lorenzo clan, which owns the LFC.
After the failed installations on April 18 and 21, two hundred MARBAI members and their supporters decided to camp-out in Mendiola starting May 1, until President Duterte himself pledged his support to them.
“The rising agrarian unrest in Lapanday and other big landholdings is a testament of the need for a genuine land reform,” said Pedro Arnado of KMP Southern Mindanao.
MARBAI expressed resolve that they shall be installed to their lands next week.