DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Senatorial bet and labor leader Elmer Labog from the Makabayan Coalition met with banana plantation workers in Compostela to discuss their plight.
Last Sunday, Labog, who is chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno, held a consultation along with AnakPawis Partylist nominee Lana Linaban with union members of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyafa Farms (Namasufa), who are still waiting for the court decision on their reinstatement and their demand for regularization in the Japanese-owned Sumitomo Fruits (Sumifru) company.
Some 1,000 Sumifru workers were terminated in 2018 following their protest to Sumifru to demand for collective bargaining.
READ: No signs of softening as Sumifru workers vow to carry on the fight for rights
During the consultation, NAMASUFA leaders aired their concern on their current situation as many are experiencing economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Marami talaga kami na mas naging mahirap ang pagbuhay sa aming pamilya dahil wala kaming maayos na trabaho. Mas pinalala pa nga ito dahil sa pandemic hindi kami makagalaw para maghanap buhay (Many of us are can barely support our families because there are no jobs. This was made worse with the pandemic because we cannot go out and look for work),” NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU Secretary Melodina Gumanoy said during the activity.
The workers’ farms were also affected by the recent flood that hit Compostela.
“Ngayon yung aming communal farm na sana ay pagkukunan naming ng konting kita ay naapektohan pa ng baha pero wala kaming natanggap na ano mang tulong para sa aming daily na kailangan. (Now our communal farms which was supposed to give us income has been affected by the flood, yet we haven’t received any help for our daily needs),” Gumanoy added.
Labog said local and national government should address the needs of workers who have contributed to the economy yet received measly support and have been marginalized politically.
“Hirap talaga yung ating mga kasamahan doon at dapang dapa yung kanilang economic activity. (Our fellow workers here are suffering, their economic activity has collapsed) They really need help. Help is not coming so we really have to insist on having benefits even in a time where the conditions are really difficult. (they need aid and other) assistance coming from the government,” Labog said.
Gumanoy added that union members have been constantly red-tagged, monitored and harassed ever since their barricade and campaign for their reinstatment.
“Itong red-tagging sa amin, yung mga members naming hina-house to house para mag surrender, sinusundan sundan tapos pinaparatangan na kapag member ng KMU ay member din ng NPA. Natatakot kami kasi hindi naming alam ano ang pwedeng mangyari sa amin (This red-tagging against us, the members are being visited house to house and asked to surrender. We are being followed and we are accused that as KMU members we already NPA members. We are afraid because we don’t know what will happen to us),” she added.
Labog also later met with environmental advocates and civil society groups in his sortie to Davao City.
Labog noticed that opposition campaign materials are hardly visible to the public. Despite that, he said the progressive groups will still continue to campaign in Duterte’s stronghold to gain support from the public.
“Well, it’s really quiet and I have notice (that the) tarpaulin (from the) opposition tila hindi nageexist sa (are hardly existing in) Davao City unlike in other places out the city meron mangilan-ngilan (where there are few). Obviously, it’s being controlled by the powers that be kaya kailangan talaga ipush yung opposition din (we need top push for the opposition),” he added. (davaotoday.com)