AGRARIAN reform beneficiaries are appealing to the National People’s Army (NPA) to stop harassing big plantations in Mindanao.
They also called on the Aquino administration to prevent such attacks that could shut down operations and trigger massive layoffs in these plantations.
“If the NPAs are truly for the people, why deprive the masses of their livelihood?” said Eduardo Maningo, a spokesman for beneficiaries.
Last year, the NPAs attacked Mindanao plantations almost on a monthly basis from January until November.
They burned heavy equipment, container vans and cargo trucks loaded with bananas in T’boli and Surallah in South Cotabato; Barobo and Lianga in Surigao del Sur; Quezon, Bukidnon; Maco, Compostela Valley; and Maasim, Sarangani province.
The assaults stopped when a Christmas ceasefire agreement was reached in December last year but resumed in late January.
The attacks from January 22 to February 19 this year was as many as those launched for the entire 2015.
There is concern that the attacks could stop the expansion of the plantations or force multinational corporations to pack up their operations altogether.
“The attacks have not yet resulted in any physical casualty to plantation workers but a much greater injury awaits, not only the farm laborers but also the economy in general,” Maningo warned.
Banana plantations cover 83,000 hectares in Mindanao and employ 332,000 workers. The closure of plantation operations could cause as many as 2 million people, to include workers’ families, to lose their livelihood.
Last week, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) said their fighters will shoot down aerial spray planes if plantations continue to use them.