NPA launches punitive action against Sumitomo Fruits in Bukidnon

Product of land grabbing, slave labor and environmental destructionBy MAMERTO BAGANI
Spokesperson, NPA Mt. Kitanglad Sub-Regional Command

Eight equipments were paralyzed as a unit of the New People’s Army under the Mt. Kitanglad Sub-regional Command launched a punitive action against the multinational plantation company Sumitomo Fruits (SUMIFRU) in Barangay (village) Barobo, Valencia City, Bukidnon, 18 January, around 10:00 PM. The Red fighters seized two firearms during the incident.

The damages incurred by SUMIFRU reportedly amount to PhP11 million (US$243,000) after the NPA attacked its banana packing house and paralyzed a cargo truck, a backhoe, six assorted machines, and three laptop computers. A shotgun and a .38 revolver were also seized from the company security guards.

The NPA launched the punitive action against SUMIFRU because of its anti-people activities, including land grabbing, the anti-labor and environmentally-destructive operations of their pineapple and banana plantations.

The company expansion operations, now covering more than 5,000 hectares, continue to control vast tracts of agricultural land in two cities and two municipalities in Bukidnon. Peasants and lumads were thus displaced and driven away from their lands. Many of them are enslaved by the foreign company as wage laborers.

Meanwhile, agricultural workers have long complained of wage slavery and inhumane working conditions. In 2010, workers were forced to strike against irregular payment of their wages, which now remains to be the case. They only earn a daily wage of PhP289 (US$6.40) despite the millions raked in by SUMIFRU in superprofits. This wage is grossly inadequate to provide for the decent living of a family, more so now with electricity rates, prices of basic commodities, gasoline, and social services soaring unbridled.

With contractualization, all workers in SUMIFRU can only work for five months without assurance of a renewal. By their contractual status, all workers in SUMIFRU remain without job security, while being deprived of benefits and the right to organize trade union.

SUMIFRU also wreaks havoc on the environment due to its destructive operations. Chemicals and waste from its plantations pollute the water, air and the soil. This aggravates climate change and victimizes the poor people who are most vulnerable to natural calamities. Residents near the plantation, as well as workers themselves, complain of the adverse effects of chemicals on their health. The company pays no heed even as many people are plagued with skin diseases.

This is yet another message from the revolutionary movement warning companies such as SUMIFRU to cease in their plantation expansion and the exploitation and oppression of agricultural workers and the people.

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