Probe of agri firms near Mt. Kitanglad sought

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 13 Nov) – Bukidnon provincial board member Jay Albarece has filed a proposed resolution asking the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office-10 to conduct labor inspections in the agricultural plantations and other firms located near the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park.

Albarece told this reporter the firms have to be inspected for compliance with labor standards like minimum wage, work safety and protective mechanisms, among others.

He noted that there is an increase in frequency of armed operations by the New People’s Army on large businesses operating near Mt. Kitanglad park this year.

Albarece admitted that the attack allegedly by the New People’s Army last month of the Mega Farms, a piggery farm in Libona town in Bukidnon and considered a major supplier in the region, triggered his proposed resolution.

“The (proposed) resolution tries to deal with the social and economic aspect of what’s happening in the area,” he said, adding that whatever is happening there “is not only police or military matter.”

The armed group disarmed the farm’s security guards, burned sacks of feeds, slaughtered 50 pigs and wounded about 400 others.

He noted in his proposed resolution that one reason cited by the revolutionary group for its activities in the area is the alleged exploitation of labor in the form of underpayment and non-compliance of labor standards.

Albarece, a labor lawyer before becoming provincial board member in 2010, said it is worthwhile to check if the companies operating in the area are indeed complying with labor laws.

“We need to confirm these allegations,” he stressed.

Raul Valmores, DOLE provincial director, said Libona, due to its proximity to Cagayan de Oro City, is under the regional office’s jurisdiction for labor inspection.

Mega Farm owner See Hong, as quoted in a report at Philstar.com, said “he pays and treats his employees well”.

He said in the report that their rates are “quite high,” giving employees basic pay plus incentive allowance “to encourage them to work.”

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