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‘Why is ex-PNoy mum on slave-like condition of sakadas in Hacienda Luisita,’ Mariano asks

news reg 1 pix 1 march 29 2017“The Cojuanco-Aquino clan has a lot of explaining to do why Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) allowed the illegal recruitment of some 1,000 sakada (sugarcane workers) from Mindanao and subjected these sakada to slave wages and slave-like working conditions in Hacienda Luisita,” according to Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael 'Ka Paeng' Mariano.

“This problem has been festering since November 2016 and to this day, the Cojuangco-Aquino family has brazenly brushed aside efforts to remedy the situation. In particular, ex-President Benigno Simeon Cojuanco-Aquino III has remained silent on the issue. It is shocking that former President Benigno Aquino can turn a blind eye and a deaf ear toward this gross social injustice and violation of human rights committed by his own family against the Mindanao sakada,” Mariano said.

He added that former Tarlac Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. even told the media in January that Hacienda Luisita did not need to hire laborers, including “sacada” (cane cutters) recruited from Mindanao, because the estate uses mechanical harvesters to cut and collect sugar canes.

Cojuangco is one of the owners of the remaining lands not covered by agrarian reform in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province.

Mariano said a probe conducted by DAR and DOLE proved the former Tarlac Representative’s assertion to be false.

Reports received by the DAR revealed the following facts:

On August 2016, Agrikulto, Inc. requested the recruitment agency Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative to procure in their behalf some 1,000 sugarcane workers or         cane cutters to work in Hacienda Luisita. Agrikulto business manager Lito Laus signed the request letter.

Agriculto, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), the biggest sugarmill in Central Luzon.

The Cojuangcos-Aquinos and the Lorenzo family jointly own CAT. Fernando Cojuangco serves as President and COO of CAT while Martin Lorenzo is its chairman and CEO.

Of the approximately 1,000 sugarcane workers recruited in Mindanao, some 160 sakada came from the province of Bukidnon. They arrived in batches to Hacienda Luisita since the first week of November 2016.

The Organisasyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (OGYON), a local affiliate of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA Pilipinas), affirmed that a number of their member-farmworkers were recruited as cane cutters or sakada and transported to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

Many of the recruited lumads were unable to read and write and were recruited through verbal agreements or upon endorsement of lumad chieftains.

Recruited lumads were promised a “Tarlac package” consisting of a daily wage of P450 plus benefits, including free meals and lodging, plus travel to and from Hacienda Luisita. They were also promised P7,000 cash advance in three tranches.

According to recruited lumads, the recruitment agency Greenhand promised lumad chieftains or datus that if they were able to recruit people to work as sakadas, Greenhand would help them in their ancestral land claims. Billy Baitus, manager of Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative, said the work in Tarlac is part of a livelihood project of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Pastor Bernie Caha, related to one of the farmworker who escaped, shared to Mariano “upon arriving in Tarlac, the recruited sakada were taken to barangay Mapalacsiao near the CAT sugar mill in Hacienda Luisita. They were made to live in a poorly ventilated bunkhouse guarded by armed security men.”

“Some of the recruited sakada were made to stay in makeshift tents and animal sheds in the middle of sugarcane fields until they have finished their quota for cutting and hauling cane.”

“Work started at 4 a.m. and finished at 5 p.m. Workers paid for their own food and provisions. Congee and sardines comprised a meal for a team of eight to 13 persons. Some worked without eating. They did not receive any of the benefits promised to them.”

“Instead of daily wages, the recruited sakada were made to accept a pakyaw rate (group rate) of P220 per ton for cutting and hauling cane, based on a quota of 18 tons a day for a sakada group composed of 8-13 cane cutters. Sugarcane workers can only cut 10 tons a day and fill two trucks a week, making their take home pay at less than P100 per day instead of the promised P450 daily wage plus benefits, Caha said.”

Actual payroll records showed that recruited Mindanao sakada in Hacienda Luisita received weekly wages that ranged from P66.21 to P898.20 a week or from P9.40 to P128.31 a day. The minimum wage for plantation agricultural workers in Central Luzon is P334 a day.

“This is a classic case of human trafficking disguised as labor-only-contracting,” Mariano said.

He added that since December of last year, the three agencies—DAR, DOLE, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had been assisting the UMA in the rescue of sugarcane workers who escaped from Hacienda Luisita.

So far, there have been 108 sakadas from December to March of this year, Mariano said, adding that many Mindanao sacadas who fled from Hacienda Luisita—some hailing from as far as Sultan Kudarat province—are still in Luzon because they do not have the means to travel back to their homes.

#DAR4Farmers #Land4Farmers #PartnerForChange

Slave-like conditions of sacadas in Hacienda Luisita alarming – DAR

news reg 1 pix 1 march 20 2017The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is continuing to assist migratory sugar workers or sacadas escaping Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.  Early this month, 19 sacadas who were recruited by a contracting agency hired by the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) from as far as Sultan Kudarat, Davao City and South Cotabato provinces has approached DAR and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) national offices to seek assistance for their plight at Hacienda Luisita.

“This alarming situation of sacadas in vast sugar plantations in Hacienda Luisita and other Luzon provinces needs to be decisively addressed. While the DAR is vigorously correcting the social injustices endured by Luisita farmers and farmworkers brought about by decades of landlessness, the Cojuangco-Aquinos continue to recruit sacadas and impose upon them unfair labor practices and unacceptable working conditions. Worse, labor contractor Greehand Labor Cooperative, affiliated with the Cojuangco-Aquinos are recruiting poor farmers and national minorities from Mindanao to work in sugarcane fields in Tarlac and Pampanga, making them even more vulnerable to abuses,” said DAR Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano.

The illegal recruitment and grim plight of sacadas in Hacienda Luisita was brought to national attention early this year when more than 40 sacadas, from Bukidnon recruited by Greenhand Labor Contractor, managed to escape Hacienda Luisita due to inhumane labor conditions. Since January, sacadas who escape Hacienda Luisita proceeded to DAR to seek temporary shelter while availing of the balik-probinsya assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.


Pastor Bernie Caha said the ‘Tarlac employment package’ on which the sacadas were recruited was proven deceitful. They were promised a daily wage of P450 with benefits, including free meals and provisions on board and lodging, and travel to and from Hacienda Luisita. Their families also received cash advance payments. The exact opposite happened as soon as the sacadas set foot on Hacienda Luisita.”

The sacadas personally narrated to Mariano the plight they endured in Hacienda Luisita. They said they were paid much less than what was promised to them by Greenhand Labor Cooperative and Agrikulto Inc. They were housed in cramped barracks and were not provided with food and water. They worked for long hours cutting and hauling sugarcane. It took them three days to finish cutting and hauling a truckload of sugarcane. It’s appalling. The labor conditions that the sacadas endured, we only knew existed in slave camps during wartime. But the sacadas are working in Hacienda Luisita and nearby plantations, at present day,” the DAR secretary said.

The sacadas who escaped Hacienda Luisita said GreenHand Labor Cooperative recruited almost a thousand sacadas from Mindanao, many of whom are unable to read or write. Many were paid even less than P9.50 per day as official payslips obtained state that some received only P43.75 each week or a mere P6.25 a day. The lowest recorded pay for an 11-man team was P38.26 per week or P5.47 per day.

“Those recruited and lured to work in Hacienda Luisita are landless farmworkers. This condition amplifies the need for a genuine agrarian reform to address the landlessness problem perpetuated by the previous Aquino administration,” the DAR secretary said.

Mariano supports the resolution filed in Congress to conduct probe on the sacada issue.
 
#DAR4Farmers #Land4Farmers #PartnerForChange

DAR validates 6,212 ARBs in HLI

news reg 3 pix 1 march 6 2017TARLAC CITY (March 6, 2017)—Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary Marcos Risonar together with other DAR officials and employees in Tarlac led the kick off of a three week-ARB (agrarian reform beneficiaries) validation in Hacienda Luisita.

The ARB validation, which is pilot-tested in Barangay Balete in Hacienda Luisita, is the department’s nationwide information-gathering to know the current status of the farmer-beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Barangay Balete, which has 57.42 hectares with 87 famer-beneficiaries, is one in 10 barangays of the awarded 4,099.92 hectare-Hacienda Luisita.
 
Risonar said the validation to be conducted in Hacienda Luisita would determine if farmers are in their respective lands and are actually tilling it themselves.news reg 3 pix 2 march 6 2017

“There are reports that farmer-beneficiaries lease, rent or sell their lands. If the informations are true, we could come up with corrective measure to protect the welfare of the farmers,” Risonar said. 

“We will ask the ARBs about their current situations. From there, we will compile all their answers to establish conclusion that will address their immediate concerns in their communities,” Risonar said.

The ARB validation, which started today March 7 up to March 24, will gather information from 6,212 farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita.

#DAR4Farmers #Land4Farmers #PartnerForChange

Region III News

news reg 1 pix 1 march 29 2017
March 29, 2017 42

‘Why is ex-PNoy mum on slave-like condition of sakadas in…

“The Cojuanco-Aquino clan has a lot of explaining to do why Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) allowed the illegal recruitment of some 1,000 sakada (sugarcane workers) from Mindanao and subjected these sakada to slave wages and slave-like working conditions in… Read More..
news reg 1 pix 1 march 20 2017
Mar 20, 2017 138

Slave-like conditions of sacadas in Hacienda Luisita…

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is continuing to assist migratory sugar workers or sacadas escaping Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Early this month, 19 sacadas who were recruited by a contracting agency hired by the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) from… Read More..
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Mar 10, 2017 76

DAR validates 6,212 Agrarian Reform beneficiaries in…

TARLAC CITY March 8 —Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary Marcos Risonar together with other DAR officials and employees in Tarlac led the kick-off of a three week-ARB (agrarian reform beneficiaries) validation in Hacienda Luisita. Read More..
news reg 3 pix 1 march 6 2017
Mar 06, 2017 74

DAR validates 6,212 ARBs in HLI

TARLAC CITY (March 6, 2017)—Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary Marcos Risonar together with other DAR officials and employees in Tarlac led the kick off of a three week-ARB (agrarian reform beneficiaries) validation in Hacienda Luisita.The ARB… Read More..