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1,000 workers to lose jobs if banana firm closes shop

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By Mike U. Crismundo

Butuan City — About 1,000 workers of Dole Philippines-Stanfilco stand to lose their jobs if management pushes through with plans to shut down due to the series of attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) on its banana plantations in Tago, Tagbina and Barobo towns in Surigao del Sur.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny T. Pimentel expressed concern about the fate of the workers and thousands more of their dependents in a press forum held here recently.

“We are very much concerned of this plan by the company to shut down because many workers will be displaced and thousands of their dependents might also be affected,” said Pimentel.

While Pimentel could not disclose the exact date when the company will close down, he nevertheless revealed that it was going to be “anytime.”

He said top officials of the provincial government is set to have a meeting with Dole Philippines-Stanfilco, military and police officials, and some line agencies of the government to be able to come up with a solution for the massive labor problem.

Pimentel said the company had actually mulled closing shop in 2016 but was only prevailed upon the provincial government to reconsider its decision because of the number of workers that will be affected.

“The company considered our request last year, with some security measures extended to them by the government force,” he said.

“However, this time, we hope that they will reconsider again our request (for them) not to stop their operation,” Pimentel said.

But even Pimentel noted it will be hard to convince Dole management to reconsider after a July 18 attack by the NPA where several hectares of fully grown banana trees were chopped down and six trucks were set on fire.

Sources from the company claimed that from 2010, the rebels have already burned a total of 19 trucks. This year alone, Dole has reportedly lost seven trucks to such burnings.

The management can no longer afford to incur heavy losses because of these attacks, the source said.

Military and police intelligence sources said the sustained NPA attacks were due to the refusal of the banana company to pay the Communists revolutionary tax.

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