Probe of agri firms near Mt. Kitanglad sought

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/14 November) Bukidnon provincial board member Jay Albarece has filed a proposed resolution asking the Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office-10 to conduct inspections in the agricultural plantations and other firms located near the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park.

Albarece told Bukidnon News the firms have to be checked for compliance with labor standards like the minimum wage law, 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 near Mt. Kitanglad Park this year.

Albarece admitted that the alleged NPA attack last month of the Mega Farms, a piggery farm in Libona 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. [What’s happening] is not only police or military matter,” he told Bukidnon News via telephone Wednesday. He said the proposed resolution is expected to be included in the first reading next week.

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

Albarece added in his proposed resolution that one of the reasons cited by the rebel group for its activities in the area is the alleged labor exploitation such as underpayment and non-compliance with 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 said.

Through a secretary, DoLE-Bukidnon provincial director Raul Valmores said Libona, due to its proximity to Cagayan de Oro, is under the regional office’s jurisdiction for labor inspection.

Mega Farm owner See Hong, as quoted in a report on 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.  (Walter I. Balane/ Bukidnon News.Net)