‘REAP MINDANAO NETWORK RESIST EXPANSION OF PLANTATIONS
REAP Spokesperson Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis Partylist, a labor leader from Southern Mindanao, said that plantation expansion can only be accomplished through the assistance of the military and its so-called investment defense forces which has been tagged as the number one nemesis of the lumad who are defending their lands against mining and plantations.
The government targets for plantation expansion include the following: 256,360 hectares for sugarcane; 150,000 hectares for cacao by 2020; 116,000 hectares for rubber; 87,903 hectares for coffee: and one (1) million hectares of oil palm plantations by 2030.
In addition to these, multinational fruit giant Dole Philippines has expressed its intention to expand to at least 12,000 hectares of land for its pineapple plantation. Unifrutti recently invested P3.7 billion for an expansion of 2,600 hectares of land for Cavendish banana plantations in Muslim areas in Maguindanao.
During the Aquino administration, the unbridled expansion of agricultural plantations has resulted in the displacement of numerous lumad and peasant communities as in the case of the A. Brown oil palm venture in Opol, Misamis Oriental.
The state, the military and other security forces, are responsible for violating the rights of the people through continued harassment, vilification and even killings to protect the interests of these corporate plantations. Gilbert Paborada, a leader of the Higaonon tribe who strongly opposed the entry of ABERDI, was killed in 2012. Independent and militant trade unions in Dolefil, Polomolok, South Cotabato experienced intense vilification campaign and harassment by the military as part of the previous administration’s counter-insurgency program.
The existence and target expansion of plantations in Mindanao pose serious threats to the environment and health of the people living within and working in the plantations. The use of pesticides and other chemicals have caused skin and respiratory diseases to workers in oil palm, banana and even pineapple plantations.
Altering the natural landscape and denudation of natural forests to be replaced by plantation crops proved to have negative impact on soil erosion, biodiversity and sources of water./MP