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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, March 25, 2017
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Labor declares
Piñol ‘persona non grata'

Labor and agrarian reform beneficiary groups in Negros Occidental passed a resolution yesterday declaring Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol “persona non grata”.

This was announced by Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Associations, at a press conference in Bacolod City yesterday attended by 15 leaders of labor groups in Negros Occidental claiming a total membership of about 10,000.

The resolution also calls for the resignation of Piñol.

“He does not deserve to stay in his position for being anti-worker, anti-people and anti-poor”, the resolution said.

“Let them do it, that's their call”, Piñol said, when asked for his reaction by ABS-CBN.

The labor groups issued the resolution in response to what they called the insensitive statement made by Piñol on social media that the farmers and workers who participated in the March 20 rally in front of the Coca-Cola plant in Bacolod City to oppose its use of High Fructose Corn Syrup were wellfunded.

“This is an insult to the dignity of all workers in the sugar industry,” the resolution said.

Piñol chose to defend the interest of the multinational beverage firms who are using HFCS rather than the interests of the farmer-workers in the sugar industry, it added.

This is inconsistent with Piñol's mandate to protect the economic interest of the farmer-workers in the sugar industry, the resolution said.

When Piñol publicly declared that he wanted to scrap Sugar Order No. 3 that regulates the importation of HFCS, Sancho said the workers were dismayed.

“It seems that Sec. Piñol is not aware of the disastrous economic consequences that shall occur if the sugar industry will collapse. The sugar workers and their families will be suffering in hunger and poverty because they are all dependent on the sugar industry as their means of livelihood,” the resolution said.

The resolution also saided Piñol‘s “Mekanikong Magsasaka” aimed at making migratory workers service providers is seemed to make himself look like the knight in shining armor to liberate the sugar workers from poverty.

However, the program is not applicable in the sugar industry, considering that 80 to 90 percent of the sugar farms are owned by small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“The program is a good cover story to skirt the vital issues on the importation of HFCS,” the resolution said.

GAWA, in a separate statement said, Piñol appears to have become the mouthpiece of the beverage firms.

The GAWA statement asked if Piñol is aware that almost 80percent of the sugar farms are now owned by small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries, who were among those who attended the rally Monday.

Among the other labor groups represented at the press conference were the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines, Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Sanlakas, Hacienda Esperanza Small Farmers Association, Bukluran ng Mangagawang Pilipino and Sanlakas.*CPG



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