Disarm and arrest Lapanday security guards– KMP

Lapanday, local police, LGU accountable for violence against ARBs and farmworkers


Tagum City — The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said perpetrators in the series of shooting at Lapanday Foods Corporation (Lapanday) in Barangay San Isidro, Madaum, Tagum City that wounded nine (9) farmworkers from the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. (MARBAI) should be brought to justice. “To ensure the safety of farmworkers and ARBs, we demand the immediate disarming and arrest of all security guards involved in the shootings. We also demand that the Lapanday management, the Lorenzo family, the local police and LGU be held accountable for the violence and injustice against farmers,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.

“There is imminent danger and threat to the life of farmworkers as long as armed security guards are inside the banana plantation,” the KMP leader said. On December 9, MARBAI farmworkers decided to launch the mass action and militant assertion to reclaim the 145 hectares of land awarded to them by the government in 1996 but was landgrabbed by Lapanday. The ARBs were not able to utilize the lands for more than six years. Since June 3, 2016, they have set up camp outside the plantation gates to protest Lapanday’s landgrabbing and onerous AVAs. “The exploitative AVA between Lapanday and the ARBs’ cooperatives left farmworkers with only an average of P70 daily income from the banana plantation,” Flores said.

The national fact finding and solidarity mission (NFFSM) initiated by KMP, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, KARAPATAN, and local organizations from Southern Mindanao Region found several rights violations committed against MARBAI farmworkers. “The security guards intended to kill the farmworkers even without any provocation. Documented accounts reveal that the security guards directly pointed their shotguns at the ARBs,” said Reynante Mantos, chairperson of the Hugpong sa mga Mang-uuma sa Compostela, provincial chapter of KMP.

Initial findings of the NFFSM also showed that security guards, employed by ACDISA security agency, fired shotguns during the period of December 9 to 14. Despite this, the Tagum City police refused to arrest the security guards. The indiscriminate shooting of farmers by the armed security guards on December 12 and December 14, respectively, resulted to the wounding of the following victims: Jose Balucos, 42 years old Rico Saladaga; Jojo Gomez, 26 years old; Belardo Francisco, 53 years old; Emanuel Buladaco, 46 years old; Joseph Bertulfo, 58 years old; Taldan Miparanun, 16 years old; Ronald Patindol, 32 years old and Randy Rana. As of today, Balucos and Saldaga, are still recuperating at the Davao Regional Hospital Tagum City.

Flores said “the continuing absence of a genuine land reform would inevitably compel tillers and farmworkers to launch more militant actions to assert their moral and historical claim to the lands.” In Mindanao, farmworkers are preparing for more land occupation activities and mass actions to press their legitimate demand for land, increase in the farmgate prices of their agricultural produce and genuine land reform. The peasant group also supported the demands of MARBAI farmworkers for their immediate reinstatement on the lands, revocation of the oppressive agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs) with Lapanday, the cancellation of illegitimate debts and loans charged by Lapanday to ARBs amounting to Php800-million; the granting of subsidies and production support to ARBs and the enactment of House Bill 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that seeks free land distribution to tillers. ###

Reference: Antonio Flores, KMP SecGen – 0921-2726682