Oligarchs and Multinationals to Benefit from Martial Law in Mindanao

Business as usual, that is the reaction today of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao as only oligarchs and multinationals will benefit from this.

This was ensured by one of the most rightist and pro-neoliberal member of President Duterte’s cabinet, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. He was one of those who persuaded the chief executive to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, even if fighting on the so-called Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups were only confined in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

UMA is also one with the people of Marawi City in condemning on the violence inflicted on them by these groups, but at the same time in using this as an excuse to declare martial law.

According to Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of UMA, it is calling on its members nationwide to oppose martial law in Mindanao and its possible extension to the whole country. He added that martial law will only further suppress the labor, land and human rights of agricultural workers and of the Filipino people.

Such is the case of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI). They were installed by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano back to their lands grabbed by Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) on May 18 this year on the orders of President Duterte himself.

Recent reports though indicate that LFC guards are harassing MARBAI members and their supporters. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao might embolden said oligarch owned company to once again forcibly eject them from their lands.

Another is the continued harassment and death threats made on May 23 by elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army on striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Corp in Compostela Valley.

The company is a Korean owned banana plantation and 80 of its workers staged a strike on March 16 for being dismissed by the company because of labor only contracting. Its members are affiliated with Shin Sun Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU.

All organizers and members of agricultural workers in Mindanao are at risk of being attacked by state security forces as Defense Chief Lorenzana branded the place as a haven of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

Agricultural workers should emulate the example of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) which was organized in 1971 or a year before the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. NFSW in coordination with UMA will hold a Congress this coming May 30-31 in Bacolod City to re-establish itself as a national federation.

Even when Marcos declared martial law, NFSW continued to successfully organize sugar workers in the fields and mills across the island even with arrests made on their ranks. A number of them also joined the armed resistance against the dictatorship.

Because of the intense exploitation and oppression against the sugar workers, NFSW was able to expand up to the 80’s and it was even a founding member of the KMU. It also contributed immensely to the ouster of Marcos from power in 1986 despite suffering deaths during the Escalante massacre a year before that.

Agricultural workers already have their own organizations in Mindanao and have been steeled in struggle as their collective actions like in the rest of the country have been met by fascist attacks. They should be ready to face further attacks because of the declaration of martial law and engage in all forms of struggle necessary.

They have the support of the Filipino peasantry, workers and people in defending their labor, land and human rights and in shouting never again to martial law. President Duterte should lift martial law because even if it is very harsh, the people would definitely struggle and win against it.18698676_1385240054892079_833020321_o.jpg


Hacienda Luisita activist gets threats on 42nd year of Martial Law

never again

Luisita farmers and Martial Law victims from Tarlac province commemorate the 42nd year of Martial Law with protests. Photo by Dax Simbol.

The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines — On the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, a poet and activist in Central Luzon got a taste of what life was like for many Filipinos under totalitarian rule.

Pia Montalban, coordinator of a support network for farmers in Hacienda Luisita, the vast Tarlac sugar estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III, received threats related to her work.

Late Sunday night, Montalban posted this message on Facebook:

Kanina may lumapit sa kin, binibigyan ako ng papel na may telephone number daw, sakali daw magbago isip ko sa ginagawa ko. Bumilis lakad ko. Ngayon katatanggap ko to mula sa isang kaibigan … so ‘pag may something, pakihanap ako sa NOLCOM.”

(“Earlier today, someone approached me, handing me a piece of paper on which was written a telephone number, just in case I changed my mind about my work. Just now I received this from a friend … so if something happens, look for me at NOLCOM.”)

NOLCOM is the military’s Northern Luzon Command based in Camp Servillano Aquino, Tarlac City, practically on the doorstep to Luisita.

Montalban accompanied her post with a screenshot of the text message sent to her by her friend, whose identity she requested not be divulged. It read:

Pi, kanina pagbalik ko sa sasakyan ko, meron lalaki nasa tabi ng sasakyan ko. ‘… sa NOLCOM ako. Meron ka b number ni Pia. Pia Montalban. Nanjan ba cya? Saan cya sasakay sau b o sa iba?’ Sabi ko, ‘Sino un? media ba? wala ako kasamang Pia.’ Sumakay na ako at unalis na kami ng driver ko.”

(“Pi, as I was returning to my car, a man was standing next to it. ‘… I am from NOLCOM. Do you have the number of Pia. Pia Montalban. Is she there? Is she riding with you or someone else?’ I said, ‘Who is she? Is she with media? I have no companion named Pia.’ I got in and left with my driver.’”)

Responding to questions on her post sent online by InterAksyon.com, Montalban said the first incident happened during a multi-sectoral mobilization to commemorate Martial Law.

She was having statements photocopied for distribution to media at the only establishment that was open, a computer shop in front of the NOLCOM headquarters, around 1 p.m.

As she was renting a unit, Montalban said a man in civilian clothes entered the computer shop and did likewise.

Namumukhaan ko na sumusunod sya sa martsa. Medyo napaisip pero ‘di pa kinabahan (I recognized him because he had been following the march. It made me think a bit but I wasn’t worried yet),” she said.

But as she exited the computer shop, “may nagsalita sa likod. ‘Kapag nagbago isip mo sa ginagawa mo tawagan mo kami.’ Inaabot niya ang puting papel nakatupi. Binilisan ko na lakad ko (someone spoke from behind me. ‘If you change your mind about what you’re doing call us.’ He was trying to hand me a folded piece of paper. I quickened my pace)” to where the protesters had assembled, at the nearby Plaza Luisita Complex.

Inulit pa niya, inaabot ‘yung papel at kung magbago daw isip ko. May dagdag pa, huwag daw ako matakot (He repeated himself, trying to hand me the paper and if I changed my mind. He added that I shouldn’t be afraid),” Montalban said. “Hindi ko nahawakan ang papel. ‘Di ko siya pinansin (I didn’t take the paper. I didn’t respond to him).”

As soon as Montalban turned a corner, “dahil kita na ‘ko ng mga kasama, patakbo na ‘ko. Nagbanggit ako sa mga kaibigang magsasaka. Gusto nga nila sugurin. Wala na (because the comrades could see me, I ran to them. I told friends among the farmers what had happened. They wanted to accost the man. But he was gone).”

Montalban said she changed the shirt she was wearing and retreated somewhere safe, “malayo sa (far from the) event.”

Baka ‘kako random lang na harrasment. Then itong message. Gabi na ‘tong message (I was thinking maybe it was random harassment. Then this message. I got this message at night),” she said.