Alleged arsonists torch houses of striking banana workers in Compostela–KMU
DAVAO CITY — Unidentified persons set on fire the house of an official of a labor union involved in a dispute with a multinational banana firm in Compostela town, Compostela Valley on Saturday, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said.
Carl Anthony Olalo, KMU Southern Mindanao secretary general, said suspected arsonists torched the house of Paul John Dizon, president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (United Workers of Suyapa Farms) around 2 a.m. on Saturday, December 15.
Also burned were the house of former union leader and former KMU regional chair Vicente “Boy” Barrios, located at the back of Dizon’s, as well as the union’s office, Olalo said in a statement.
Olalo said the burned structures were just 30 meters away from the “heavily guarded” Packing Plant 220 of the Sumitomo Fruits Co. (Sumifru) in Compostela town.
He said Saturday’s incident happened days after an earlier arson attempt on Dizon’s home on Nov. 29 and a strafing incident on Nov. 30.
The Japanese firm has 2,200 hectares planted to exportable Cavendish banana. Workers from eight of its nine packing plants went on strike in September after negotiations to regularize plantation workers broke down.
The KMU regional head condemned the attacks “as a brazen attempt to kill unionists and their families.”
“We will stand our ground and not let these murderous acts take away our resolve to seek justice and demand accountability from Sumifru,” Olalo said.
The agribusiness firm has yet to issue a statement regarding the issue.
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