million agri-business workers in Mindanao affected by land review
November 25, 2017
QUEZON CITY – The
entire 4.8 million workers in banana, pineapple, cacao, and palm oil
including those jobs in the agribusiness value chain in Mindanao are
jittery over their fate in the light of on-going congressional
investigation into the Agribusiness Ventures Arrangements (AVAs),
according to the country’s biggest labor group the Associated Labor
Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).
“We respect the
congressional inquiry on the AVAs but we cannot prevent Mindanaoan
workers and their families whose lives have been anchored on and
around the agribusiness in Mindanao for decades to feel anxious and
uncertain over the fate of their livelihood in view of the
investigation,” said ALU-TUCP National President Michael Mendoza and
chairman of labor coalition Nagkaisa.
“We urged our lawmakers to
assure Mindanaoans and guarantee that the outcome of the query of
the arrangements shall not alter the existing playing field. It
should not result to job losses and displacements. The investigation
should not result in uncertainty among stakeholders. It should
rather send a message that government is reliable social and
economic partner,” Mendoza said.
The statement was made
amid the consultation on the on-going investigation in aid of
legislation by the Committee on Agrarian Reform of the House of
Representatives led by committee chairman Rep. Teddy Brawner
Baguilat, Jr. at a committee hearing held in CAP Grand Auditorium in
Andas, Davao City yesterday (Thursday, Nov. 23).
Mendoza said ALU-TUCP
supports measures that will strengthen the generation of quality
jobs for all workers in the agro-food value chain and enhances the
agri-entrepreneurship development and support mechanism for ARBs.
“It is our view that any
proposed laws on the matter should focus on developing a genuine
partnership between farmer beneficiaries and the agribusiness so as
to enhance the dignity of the farmers and farmworkers, and promote
their agricultural security of tenure. It must retain existing
investors and attract new investors as well to broaden the
development in Mindanao,” he said.
The Agribusiness Ventures
Arrangements (AVAs) and Joint Venture Agreements (JVA) are subjects
of both House Bills 5085 and 919. Authored by Baguilat, HB 5085 aims
to regulate AVAs while HB 919 was introduced by the Makabayan bloc
to look into the concerns raised by agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The millions of workers
depend on various agri-business ventures arrangements with Agrarian
Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) with agri-businesses engaged in
pineapple, banana, cacao, palm oil and other fruits products in
Mindanao including those workers involved in processing, packing,
distribution and those jobs in the entire agro-business production
The AVAs, as of March 2014
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) record reached a total of 161
nationwide. DAR noted that the most common AVA is contract growing/growership
which accounts for 72 or 45% of the total AVAs.
This was followed by lease
agreement at 42 or 26%, leaseback at 21 or 13%. Joint Venture
Agreements, meanwhile, is at 12 or 8%.