By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera
MANILA, Philippines- The progressive party list group Anakpawis on Saturday suggested Malacanang to place thousands of hectares of banana plantations destroyed by super typhoon Pablo last year under a rehabilitation program and later distribute it for free to thousands of farm worker beneficiaries in Davao Oriental andCompostela Valley to spur economic activity and help farming families rebuild their devastated lives.
In a press statement sent to media on Sunday, Anakpawis party list Fernando Hicap said the following should be subjected to rehabilitation and free distribution to farm workers:
* the 300 hectare banana plantation of Comval Tropical Fruit Inc located in Barangays Naboc and Babag. * the area covered by Compostela Plantation Inc. operated by the Japanese firm Sumitomo Fruits Inc.
* the 1,000 hectare banana plantation of maintained by Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies
* the 14, 732 hectares of banana plantation in Davao City
"The best way to spur economic activities and economic progress in Pablo devastated areas is to urgently complete the rehabilitation of these typhoon wrecked banana plantations to be followed by quick and unconditional free land distribution to farm workers and other qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries," Hicap argued.
According to the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters’ Association (PBGEA) last year's typhoon Pablo wiped out almost all banana plantations in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and rendered tens of thousands of banana plantation workers jobless or out of work.
The PBGEA maintained that it would cost banana companies P500,000 to rehabilitate one hectare or maybe even higher as some of the plantations were totally wiped out, hence, had to start from scratch.
Industry players reportedly had asked President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to support the rehabilitation by making available at least P 7.5 B to finance recovery efforts of banana growers in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.
"Malacanang should pursue the rehabilitation of devastated farms. But that should not be in the interest of banana monopolies because that is unfair and unjust to the Filipino taxpaying public and to the banana farm workers.
There should be rehabilitation and the rehabilitated agricultural lands covered by banana plantations should be awarded to farm workers for free," Anakpawis party list insisted.
Industry players said it will take eight to 10 months to rehabilitate the banana plantations.
To justify the requested funding for rehabilitation, banana growers in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley invoked the sorry situation of farm workers, which Anakpawis party list said is highly insulting to the collective intelligence and social dignity of farm workers and landless peasants in the region. ####