The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year by President Duterte’s new cronies in Congress.
This will ensure the expansion of plantations in Mindanao and impinge on the rights of agricultural workers, farmers and indigenous peoples.
The US-Duterte regime which is becoming a dictatorship is adhering to neo-liberal policies, one of which, is the targeted expansion of 1.6 million hectares of plantations, most of which would be in Mindanao.
Other than opening this up to TNC’s, this would also benefit Duterte cronies like Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation and Peter Lavina of the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc.
One million hectares of this would be devoted to oil palm, and the rest to bananas, pineapples, rubber and sugar. These do not even include coffee and cacao.
At present, there are 500,000 has. already devoted to such crops in Mindanao.
More massacres against indigenous peoples and farmers opposing expansion of plantations would occur such as what happened on Dec. 3 in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Soldiers belonging to the 27th IB massacred 8 lumads led by Datu Victor Dayan who opposed DMCI’s encroachment on their ancestral lands for expansion of coffee plantations and mining operations.
The military is quick to categorize them as NPA rebels, even if environmental and even church groups reveal otherwise.
Earlier on June 2 this year, soldiers and police dispersed striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Compostela Valley using martial law as an excuse. Fourteen workers and advocates were then arrested and beaten up.
Like the previous US Marcos dictatorship, which Duterte emulates, ML will ensure that nobody will be allowed to assert their land, labor and human rights such as in the plantation issue.
This new dictatorship though has forgotten the lessons of history. That when there is greater repression, there is greater and bigger resistance until all tyrants fall.