Dole Philippines has closed its banana operations in three municipalities on the island of Mindanao, according to local press reports. The Manila Bulletin reported security concerns had prompted the decision in Surigao del Sur, affecting at least 400 jobs in the municipalities of Tagbina, Tago and Barobo. The newspaper reported Stanfilco closed its operations after 18 incidents of harassment from “armed lawless groups”, which set fire to container trucks filled with fresh bananas on several occasions. Website Inquirer.net reported the attacks were conducted by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
The closure affects Stanfilco, a division of Dole Philippines which falls under the banner of Dole Asia, owned by Japan’s Itochu Corporation and not to be confused with the North America-based company of the same name.
The now unemployed fruit workers held a rally in Barobo earlier this week, the website reported.
“Where now are their claims that they are soldiers of the masses that will look after our welfare? We are here not to fight with arms but to condemn the extortion activities of the NPA which cost our livelihood,” displaced worker Concepcion Jumao-as was quoted as saying at the rally.
“We’re saddened about this development, because not only the 400 workers who are directly affected but the more than 5,000 dependents including their families and children,” Surigao del Sur Gov. Vicente T. Pimentel Jr. told the Manila Bulletin.
In other Philippine banana news, the Sun Star reports the country’s small banana growers are looking to create a Banana Industry Council. Mindanao-based Federation of Cooperatives (Fedco) Ireneo Dalayon said small growers, mostly with only one hectare each in production, hoped to garner support from the national government.
“We have to improve our quality of bananas so we can explore more the local industry,” Dalayon was quoted as saying.
Photo: A WOMAN employee of Stanfilco weeps after learning of the company decision to close shop following attacks by communist guerrillas. CHRIS PANGANIBAN/INQUIRER MINDANAO