CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/18 September) – An official of the provincial government in Misamis Oriental took exception to a statement coming from a coconut farmers’ group in the province that he was simply reducing their demands to a mere issue of peace and order.
Teddy Sabugaa, executive director of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, said Saturday that the Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association (MOFA) was wrong in saying that they were being viewed as a security threat. Sabugaa clarified he opted to refer the economic demands raised by the group to the PPOC because “issues related to survival and food security are likely to impact on the peace and order situation”.
“Are we a threat to security? Do we initiate violence for the POC to dip their fingers into our agrarian issues?” MOFA chair Ireneo Udarbe said in a statement in response to Sabugaa’s invitation to a “peace dialogue”
“We welcome the initiatives of Mr. Sabugaa. But coming from him as head of the peace and order council, we feel it is improper for him to take the lead in resolving our issues in the coconut farms and industries,” Udarbe added.
MOFA members have asked for a sharing system that would be more favorable to the farmers. They particularly demanded doing away the “tersya” system or a sharing system that gives tenants a third of the income derived from the produce.
They also demanded an increase in the prices of copra and its by-products and in the wages for workers in the coconut plantations and coconut-processing businesses.
Sabugaa said he received information that MOFA’s demands are primarily directed at 11 unnamed big landlords.
“If they (MOFA) will attend the peace dialogue on Monday (September 19), I urge them to name these landlords,” he said. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)