REAP Mindanao Network Launched to Resist Expansion of Plantations

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Ang UMA | July-December 2015

The Network Resisting Expansion of Agricultural Plant ations in Mindanao (REAP-Mindanao Network) was successfully launched in a national conference on Mindanao plantations held at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Education Auditorium in Diliman, Quezon City last October 28, as part of activities of the 2015 Manilakbayan ng Mindanao protest caravan.

The launch was spearheaded by the REAP secretariat and main conveners led by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in the Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) and its national office, RMP-National, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), with support from the Hong Kong-based Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), the All-UP Workers Alliance and the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) in UP Diliman.

This event was accompanied by a photo exhibit mounted by RMP-NMR and UMA titled “The Other Face of Plunder in Mindanao” which featured the effects of the expansion of corporate agricultural plantations in Mindanao. Infographics were also displayed in the conference venue, while a briefer on Mindanao plantations prepared by the CTUHR was included in the conference kit provided to the participants. More than 300 people attended the event.

Speakers and resource persons for the conference include Pesticide Action Network (PAN)-Philippines President Dr. Romeo Quijano, a renowned toxicologist and environmental activist, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Former Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chairperson Rafael Mariano, RMP  National Coordinator Sister Francis Anover, and Mindanao labor leader Ariel Casilao also of Anakpawis and the Kilusang Mayo Uno in the Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR). Reactors include Datu Jomorito Goaynon of Katribu, Sister Mary Jane Caspillo of RMP-NMR and representatives of lumad and workers from various agricultural plantations in Mindanao.

Dr. Quijano comprehensively talked about the ill effects of pesticides on people and the environment especially in banana plantations. Dr. Quijano is currently facing resurrected harassment suits filed by the Lapanday Agricultural Company (LADECO ) because of his research and exposes.

Mariano described the government’s role in exempting agricultural plantations from land reform and its threat on the food security of the Filipino people. Casilao, on the other hand, described not only the situation of affected farmers and lumad (indigenous peoples), but also the predicament of agricultural workers toiling under harsh labor conditions in these plantations. He ended his presentation with a call to resist oppression, plunder and exploitation.

Prominent guests include Prof. Felipe de Leon Jr. of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA ); Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis Partylist; Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, UP Manila Prof. Roland Simbulan, Dr. Carol Araullo of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN); Elmer Labog, KMU National Chairperson, among others.Cultural performances were presented by the Tindoga lumad organization of Bukidnon, KONTRA-GAPI and songwriter Danny Fabella.

Solidarity messages from international and local formations were sent by the PAN-Asia Pacific, AMRC, the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical
Advocacy Alliance (WCC -EAA ) and the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP).

UMA and RMP-National also organized and participated in several forum-discussions to promote the REAP Mindanao Network at the Bulacan State University, De La Salle College of St. Benilde, Ateneo de Manila University, Miriam College, UP Manila, University of Sto. Tomas, San Isidro Labrador Church, and the Claret Seminary, where a total of over a thousand participants composed of church people, community leaders, students and teachers interacted with lumad leaders Aisa Seisa, Dulping Ogan, Kerlan Fanagel and other resource persons like Dr. Gene Nisperos of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD).

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