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 value chain.
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%.