By ALAN JUANITO
Spokesperson, NPA Julito Tiro Command
NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Operations Command
The New People’s Army under the South-Central Bukidnon (NPA-SCB) Sub-Regional Command successfully raided the compound of Del Monte Philippines Pineapple Plantation in Sitio Kiantig, Barangay (village) San Jose, Quezon, Bukidnon, on 15 July 2014, around 10:30 AM. The NPA unit seized 17 firearms in the tactical offensive.
The NPA confiscated from the security guards of Del Monte’s satellite plant 10 high powered rifles, including six M16 rifles, three carbines and a Garand M1 rifle. They also seized six shotguns, one pistol, five VHF Radios and some live ammunition. Meanwhile, the Red fighters also destroyed their chemical warehouse, security bunker, and plant machineries including a tractor, four motorcycles, and others.
Riding a Forward truck and a ten-wheeler, an NPA company raided the Del Monte compound, despite its proximity to the battalion headquarters of the 23rd Infantry Battalion in Maramag, the police station in Quezon town, and the command post of the 1st Special Forces in Salawagan, Quezon. The reactionary armed forces and police failed to respond to the quick, secret and surprise NPA operation.
During the attack, a few of the company guards resisted, resulting in a few minutes of firefight during which two guards, Rey Balon and Reynald Pangkat, were killed. On the other hand, the NPA suffered no casualties and safely withdrew after the raid. Nevertheless, we offer our condolences to the relatives and friends of those killed in the incident. We reiterate that punishing such companies and seizing their firearms are the NPA’s only aim. We do not intend to hurt their security guards as long as they offer no resistance.
Del Monte is being punished for its massive criminal culpability. Firstly, its outgrower, Poling Lorenzo, who aggressively seeks to expand the plantation, is a landgrabber. Using his armed guards, he harassed the legitimate claimants of the land he targets for expansion. Even nuns, students and supporters of the peasant claimants had a taste of strafing from Lorenzo’s rabid guards.
Secondly, its violations of labor regulations. Almost all of its workers are not regular owing to the labor cooperative scheme under the Kiantig Services Multi-purpose Cooperative (KISMUCO) under Poling Lorenzo’s control. With Lorenzo’s control on the workers cooperative, wages remain low and workers are subjected to oppressive quota and piece-rate systems before being paid; they receive no benefits, suffer from countless deductions, and their SSS and Philhealth funds are not regularly remitted. In 2011, the company also fired workers on protest without even addressing their complaints.
And thirdly, ever since the Del Monte plantation started to operate in the area, San Jose and its adjacent barrios (villages) have experienced more frequent flooding which have inundated several houses. Chemicals from the company also poison Luwan-luwan Spring, which serves as the town’s freshwater source.
Once more, we warn multinational companies like Del Monte, Dole and Sumifru to cease their aggressive and destructive expansion. They should stop landrabbing and pay those already dispossessed of their land. They should also respect the rights of the workers who have given them their billions worth of superprofit. The revolutionary movement will continue to launch punitive actions such as this for as long as the concerned companies do not heed these demands.