There are already 10,000 documented “sacadas”, or migrant workers from Antique, in Negros Occidental, excluding the “undocumented” ones, working in sugarcane plantations of different haciendas, but they are still not enough.
Antique Gov. Rhodora Cadiao, who is now on her third visit to Negros Occidental to check on the plight of Antique migrant workers, yesterday said that Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. wants more “sacadas” to work in the province.
Cadiao, who met yesterday with Marañon said he expressed concern over the decreasing number of “sacadas” in Negros Occidental.
She noted that majority of the migrant farm workers from Antique, who are working in Negros Occidental haciendas, are already old, while the younger ones are now studying and have trained in technical and vocational courses, if not in four year courses.
“While he wants to go mechanized (farm mechanization), Gov. Marañon does not also want to deprive sacadas of jobs in Negros, Cadiao said. But he also told me to prepare the province (Antique) for the eventuality that Negros will go for mechanization, and sacadas will no longer be needed here,” she added.
Cadiao, accompanied by representatives of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Labor and Employment, Social Welfare and Development Office, as well as the different offices of the Antique provincial government, will start visiting the haciendas in the province to check on the condition of Antique migrant workers.
Cadiao said a lot of Antique migrant workers were reported missing, and some of them had been shot and killed, and their cadavers or skeletal remains left unattended in cane fields, to send a signal that they should not escape from their job.
Due to shortage of workers, they are not allowed by their contractors, or hacienderos, to go home, or return to Antique, even in emergency cases, the lady governor said.
Worse, Cadiao noted that some Antique labor contractors were also the ones who abused their fellow Antiqueños.
This prompted her to establish a “Sacada Desk” and hire a lawyer to assist the Antique migrant workers in Negros Occidental.
In the distribution of food packs, rice and medicines to migrant workers, Cadiao said they also provided them her phone numbers and representatives of government agencies, in case they need help.
On top of this, Cadiao said, Marañon also assured her of help to migrant workers. At the same time, he wants exchange of agriculture technology, especially in fishing, she added.
“Gov. Marañon also wants us to revive the industry of “bangus fingerlings”, with Negros Occidental getting its supply from Indonesia, that they used to get from Antique, while he was not yet the governor of Negros Occidental,” Cadiao also said. * GPB
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