Martial Law in Mindanao: AFP’s intrusion, threats vs. Comval banana
workers slammed

MART D. SAMBALUD

Martial Law in Mindanao: AFP’s intrusion, threats vs. Comval banana workers slammed

29 May 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed on Monday
the Armed Forces of the Philippines for hurling threats, intimidation
and intruding the camp of protesting banana workers in Compostela Valley
province amid the Martial Law in Mindanao.

KMU reported that government soldiers belonging to the Army’s 66th
Infantry Battalion “forcibly occupied and camped” inside the Shin Sun
packing plant on May 26, two days after the imposition of Martial Law.
The soldiers had also “barged in the picket line” of striking Shin Sun
workers just outside the banana plantation.

The labor group also said that soldiers coming from the same army unit
“threatened to kill” the protesting farmers if the 2-month strike
against the Korean-owned banana company would not be lifted.

More than 80 banana workers mounted strike against Shin Sun Tropical
Corp. because of the company’s continued practice of labor
contractualization and union busting. The workers were dismissed by the
company because of “labor contracting.”

“We strongly condemn these atrocities against workers. Instead of
fighting terrorism, Duterte’s Martial Law is being used to sow state
terror to suppress Filipino workers’ and people’s legitimate and just
demands,” KMU Secretary General Jerome Adonis said in a statement.

Apart from the military’s forcible entry into the protesting banana
workers’ camp, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of the Unyon ng mga
Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), claimed that labor organizers and
affiliated members of Shin Sun Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU received death
threats on May 23.

“The 66th IB has been harassing them and the workers have been accused
of being members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA). It is just one of too
many cases of legitimate labor disputes being criminalized by state
security forces,” Ramos said in a statement sent to media.

As the people in Mindanao were gripped by anxiety following the
President’s Martial Law declaration, human rights groups and militants
warned of massive human rights violations. Last week, Philippine Army
General and Martial Law Chief Eduardo Año said that warrantless arrests
were occurring throughout Mindanao, mainly affecting those perceived by
the military who has ties with terrorists or group such as the Islamic
State-linked Maute group.

Año assured that human rights would be respected, but human rights
groups remain skeptical, citing that rights abuses occurred under the
Duterte administration.

Despite the government’s claim that the Martial Law only targets the
terrorist Maute group, workers of Shin Sun Tropical Corporation in
Compostela Valley said they fell victim to the atrocities of the Duterte
administration’s military rule in Mindanao.

Adonis said the attack against Shin Sun workers “could serve as a
prelude to further suppress other workers’ strikes in Mindanao and sends
a chilling effect on workers asserting their legitimate demands against
contractualization and for a significant wage hike.”

“If Duterte wants to combat terrorism, he should go after the US who
formed and has been funding these terrorist groups and not the workers
and other civilians who are now being victimized by the state terrorism
sowed by his military,” he said.

Adonis called on Duterte to lift the Martial Law in Mindanao because “it
is now being used by warmongers and fascists in the military as a
license to justify their gross human rights violations, curtailment of
democratic rights and suppression of legitimate workers’ and people’s
struggles and demands.”

“We call on Filipino workers to stand up for our rights and strongly
oppose Duterte’s Martial Law. We cannot allow Duterte’s draconian rule
to curtail our rights to assert our legitimate demands under the guise
of the US-backed war against terrorism,” he added. ( davaotoday.com)