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Land Scam

Agrarian "Reform," Ramos Style

by Anotnio Ma. Nieva

MANILA - Across the Philippines, tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land are undergoing "conversion" - the official metaphor for exclusion from land reform - leaving tens of thousands of hand-to-mouth farmers landless, restless and angry.

Landlords openly harass peasants, driving them off their farms at gunpoint, fencing them out with barbed wire, bulldozing crops. Certificates of land titles are worthless; in some areas they are confiscated. The countryside seethes with tension while the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) itself is hobbled by legal constraints.

For all intents and purposes, land reform is dead, killed by the government's consuming pre-occupation with becoming a NIC (newly industrializing country) by the year 2000.

One thousand or so embattled farmers from Southern Tagalog, a region just south of the Manila region, declared so on May 20, 1993, in a funeral caravan that sought to focus the Ramos administration's attention on the moribund state of Republic Act 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).

Elsewhere, thousands of others are fighting desperately to keep what they have- and are gradually losing. Riddled with loopholes at its enactment on June 10, 1988, the "centerpiece program" of former President Corazon Aquino was dealt what has been described as the mortal blow four years later by another law: Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, which was, ironically, meant to empower the people by strengthening local government.

From the northernmost Philippine island of Luzon down to the southernmost island of Mindanao, an epidemic of land-use conversion from agricultural to industrial, commercial, residential or tourist purposes is systematically reversing land reform in a way that was never foreseen by the framers of CARL.

More of nothing

"We had nothing then, now we have more of nothing," says an embittered Elias Kasunuran, president of Damayan rig Mga Magbubukid sa Bayan ng Binan, a farmers' group locked in a life-and-death struggle with land developers.

Land use conversion is authorized by CARL, itself. The law charges the DAR with reviewing conversion applications according to lenient criteria.

The DAR approved 866 of 1,200 applications for land-use conversion in 1992, removing 12,047 hectares from land reform coverage. This figure could easily swell to 23,033 hectares if 324 pending applications are approved.

These government data do not reflect the full extent of land conversions, according to the Philippine Peasant Institute (PPI). The PPI reports, for example, that the DAR's office in Santa Cruz, in the Southern Tagalog province of Lagima, documented the conversion of 1,568 hectares in the municipality, but the DAR's national records listed only two cases covering 218 hectares. Southern Tagalog-Agenda, a farmers' organization, reports an additional 2,464 hectares converted elsewhere in Laguna, a development which the PPI claims also escaped the DAR's master list. The DAR's statistics also ignore illegal conversions that occur without its knowledge. Overall, the PPI estimates more than 100,000 hectares of land have been converted to industrial, commercial, tourist and residential use.

By 1998, the DAR expects to distribute 2.5 million hectares to almost a million land reform beneficiaries. But the country's breakneck drive toward industrialization will likely dislocate nearly a fourth of the country's estimated 10 million farmers over the same period, as farm lands are cleared to make way for factories and plants. In fact, the pace of land conversion appears to he rapidly increasing in direct proportion to the slowdown in land distribution, notes Corinne Canlas, PPI director for research.

A May 1993 position paper by the PPI identifies Southern Tagalog as the area hardest hit by land conversion on the island of Luzon because of two ambitious industrial projects - the Calabarzon estate (located on lands in five provinces south of Manila) and the Bondoc Peninsula Integrated Area Development Program. Sixty-eight percent of the rice lands converted to nonagricultural use was concentrated in this area, according to the PPI.

Another impetus for massive land conversions are the 23 Rural Industrial Centers (RICs) to be set up under President Fidel Ramos's development plan. Sixteen of them alone require 10,547 hectares of agricultural land, says Economic Planning Secretary Cielito Habito. Seven of the RICs are to be constructed within irrigated and irrigable areas that, until 1989, were covered by land reform. Thirteen more such estates are being planned for Mindanao, on top of the two already set up in Cagayan de Oro and General Santo cities.

Land conversions for the RICs, says the PPI's Canlas, will cause untold hardships for farmers, who have no guarantee whatsoever ofany livelihood more productive and socially edifying than a hired hand once they are dislodged from their farms.

Still anotherproblem is illegal land conversions, a phenomenon which has only barely been documented. From 1991, according to Southern Tagalog-Agenda, illegal land conversions have claimed at least 15,557 hectares in Southern Tagalog alone, mainly through direct transactions among farmer-beneficiaries of the CARP, landowners and foreign investors. In the Southern Tagalog city of Santa Rosa for example, 522 farmer-families occupying a five-hectare tract are being forcibly evicted by a company, Andasol Finance Corp., to make way for an "industrial complex." The project has not been approved by the DAR. In December 1992, also in Santa Rosa, Agricultural Reform Secretary Ernesto Garilao intervened in the nick of time to stop the conversion of 11 hectares into an industrial estate - supposedly a joint-venture partnership between Toshiba World Philippines and Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) beneficiaries. In rejecting the application for conversion, Garilao invoked regulations which prohibit conversion of CARP lands within five years of their having been awarded to a beneficiary. The land proposed for conversion, part of the 1,645-hectare estate which alleged Marcos crony Jose Yao Campos had surrendered to the government, was awarded as recently as 1989 and 1991.

The illusion of protection

The Filipino magbubukid (farmer) is fighting a lost cause. One sheet of paper bearing the signature of President Fidel V. Ramos is all that stands between the small farmers and the night stalkers standing in line to take away what little land they till.

But even Administrative Order No. 20 (AO 20) is not protection against the persistent battering of the landlord and big-business lobby that equates land reform with a big leap backward for the country, a social deadweight to economic growth. In the government's frenzied drive to industrialize, the spirit and intent of an inherently flawed CARP is inexorably being bulldozed under.

Signed December 7,1992, Ramos claimed AO 20 was intended to stop the indiscriminate conversion of productive rice lands for commercial, industrial or residential use. While it establishes regulatory safeguards against land-use conversion, AO 20 is often sidestepped by landowners. In more than a few documented instances, it is disregarded outright by profit-hungry speculators engaging in wholesale- and grossly illegal-conversion of agricultural land into subdivisions and tourist resorts that the Department of Agrarian Reform is hard-pressed to stop.

Worse still, AO 20 is as plagued with loopholes and exceptions as CARL and the Local Government Code. Although it purports to strengthen land reform with guidelines that forbid land conversion on most irrigated lands and on irrigable lands covered by fully funded irrigation projects, AO 20 declares all other agricultural land eligible for conversion, conditional only "upon strict compliance with existing laws, rules and regulations."

And even the prohibition on conversion can be easily circumvented. Water can be shut off and irrigation systems destroyed by landlords, with little prospect of rebuilding. Such is the case in Laguna, where unscrupulous land developers and their police bodyguards have wiped out a centuries-old network of irrigation dikes relied on by about 5,000 farmers.

With the land rendered "negotiable" for conversion, it becomes a fairly routine matter for landlords to comply strictly with "existing laws, rules and regulations," as required by AO 20, and still turn their property into a subdivision or tourist resort.

'Reclassifying' agricultural lands

AO 20 makes a poor executive plug to stop the hemorrhage in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program induced by Section 20 of the Local Government Code. The Code authorizes cities and municipalities, after a series of public hearings, to reclassify up to 15 percent of their lands as no longer suitable for agriculture. These reclassified lands are then exempt from the land reform.

The Code stipulates two bases for reclassifying lands: that the lands to be converted cease to be "economically feasible and sound for agricultural purposes," as determined by the Department of Agriculture; and that the city or municipal council determine that the lands have greater economic value for residential, commercial or industrial purposes. The Code's only express injunction is a prohibition on reclassification of lands already distributed under CARL and other relevant agrarian laws.

The limitations on reclassification in the Code are cosmetic. One key provision allows the president, "when public interest so requires" and on the recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority, to authorize towns and cities to reclassify lands above the limits set by the Code.

If there is any doubt that the Code means to favor landlords, Article 42 of Section 20 erases it by providing that approval of applications for reclassification "shall not unreasonably be withheld." It furthermore stipulates, "failure to act on a proper and complete application for reclassification within three months from receipt of the same shall be deemed as approval thereof."

Adding to these problems, local government units have recently been undertaking their own land conversions, a development that seriously undermines the DAR's authority and mandate. "Our position is that local governments can only reclassify," says Agrarian Reform Secretary Ernesto Garilao. "They have no authority to convert" But the damage has been done. Former DAR Secretary Benjamin Leong says that up to 371,000 hectares may be lost to CARP due to indiscriminate reclassification under Sec. 20 of the Local Government Code.

Plagued by loopholes

There are a wide array of anti-farmer implements available to landlords and developers, many in the form of gaping loopholes in CARL. Among the loopholes in the land-reform program are:

  • Department of Justice Opinion No. 44, which exempts from land reform all lands applied for conversion before June 15, 1988, when land zoning in cities and municipalities came into force.
  • The stock transfer and production sharing scheme that had Corazon Aquino's family's Hacienda Luisita as the first beneficiary. The scheme allows large plantations, whether Filipino-owned or operated by multinational corporations, to transfer the illusion of ownership to plantation workers while allowing the current plantation operators to maintain actual control.
  • The 10-year deferment from land reform coverage for already developed commercial farms to enable them to recoup investments.
  • The allowance of the sale or transfer of emancipation patents, certificates of land ownership award and certificates of land transfer 10 years after their issuance,
  • The land-use conversion provision which prohibits the conversion of CARP lands within five years of award to farmer-beneficiaries - but permits conversion thereafter.
  • The five-hectare retention limit for landowners, which comes atop of the three hectares allowed per heir and represents a significant step down from the zero-retention proposed in the original land reform bill.

"CARL is like a sack of rice - the sack is full of holes, and is now almost empty," says Ed Mora, chairperson of KASAMA, an alliance of farmers' groups in Southern Tagalog.

Efforts to further emasculate CARL continue in Congress. Two House bills seek to exclude commercial farms scheduled for redistribution in 1997 from CARP. Another House measure proposes to exempt agricultural lands with a slope of seven degrees planted with fruit and forest trees for lumber. Still another bill would suspend land reform in Mindanao until the year 2020.

Only recently, the president signed into law RA 7652, which allows foreign investors to lease agricultural lands up to 50 years, renewable for another 25 years. The KMP, a mass-based peasants' association, charges that RA 7652 is patently anti-farmer. The new law legitimizes the forcible eviction of tenant-tillers, legalizes conversion of agricultural lands and institutionalizes the expansion and control of multinational corporations over vast tracts of plantation lands planted with export crops, the organization claims.

The PPI's Canlas sums up the uphill legislative struggle facing farmers' advocates. "The landlord lobby is very aggressive, attending all sessions in the House committee on agrarian reform," says Canlas. "The PPI can only present position papers, and hope that the committee chairman is sympathetic to the farmers' cause."

Enforcement sham

Enforcement of agrarian reform is as trouble-filled for farmers as the laws themselves. "Landowners think we are proceeding too fast," says Agrarian Reform Secretary Ernesto Garilao, "while farmers say we are moving too slow."

The DAR's mandate is to implement land reform, Garilao says. "And we're doing it within the scope defined by [ RA 16657. "The government agency, he points out, cannot do more than what is provided for in the law, without violating the same law.

But precisely because the law is flawed, the DAR now finds its time and resources strained to the limits by legal challenges initiated by landowners in municipal and regional trial courts. Judges abet the frivolous suits, issuing decisions on agrarian disputes that CARL places under the legal jurisdiction of the DAR Adjudication Board. Many judges were uninformed about the issue of jurisdiction until recently, when Supreme Court Chief justice Andres Narvasa issued a circular reminding them to remand all agrarian cases to the DAR's Adjudication Board. The critical situation raises the specter of justice being methodically miscarried on a nationwide scale, with farmers at the receiving end.

"We have had to `slug it out,"' says Garilao, citing an instance where a municipal court in Bago City issued a temporary restraining order on a motion by a disgruntled landowner, to stop the DAR from redistributing his estate in Bacolod. The DAR won the case, says Garilao.

In Montalban, on an eviction case filed by the heirs of a 47-hectare estate, the municipal judge simply declared CARP beneficiary Antonio a "squatter" and, therefore, "outside the coverage and protection of land reform," in spite of the title in his possession. Antonio's case remains lost. "It's really a question of jurisdic tion," says Garilao.

Reestablishing the DAR's jurisdiction would hardly be a solution, though. Severely understaffed, its adjudicators and lawyers poorly paid, the Adjudication Board is unable to cope with the number of pending cases that clog its dockets, as of early 1993, the Board's backlog stood at 77,443. At a recent hearing of the House Committee on Agrarian Reform, Garilao conceded the Board's "serious problem" with personnel. Because of poor pay - lawyers at the DAR receive only $240 to $280 a month- many of its legal officers are leaving, and there are few replacements.

Much of the energy that the DAR is able to muster is sapped by its responsibility of approving conversions of farm lands to nonagricultural use. "Conversion is tying us down," Garilao admits.

As if this were not enough, the DAR's Adjudication Board's decisions, orders and writs are often left unenforced by the Philippine National Police (PNP), which is more inclined to side with landowners than farmers. In don Jose, a community in Santa Rosa, for example, 22 farmers fighting to retain 17 hectares of land awarded them by the DAR won a favorable decision from the DAR Adjudication Board stopping their eviction - but were evicted nevertheless. The Laguna PNP flatly refused to enforce the Board's order and instead is helping keep them out, according to peasant activist Graciano Manto.

The military's subversion of land reform

The final bludgeon against farmers is the most vicious. Landlords frequently use the military and police to muzzle, intimidate or soften opposition to land consolidation or conversion. Some of the most brutal repression is unleashed in connection with the military's counterinsurgency program. Aimed at dismantling guerrilla fronts, the military's clear-and-hold strategy, which depends on concentrated and prolonged troop deployments, provides a standing security force for landlords and developers, say leaders of the KMP, the peasant organization.

As an example of the effects of militarization on the land-reform process, the KMP cites the illegal conversion in 1992 of 114 hectares of CARP-awarded land in two communities in Binan, Laguna into the Laguna International Industrial Park of businessperson Elena Lim. This conversion, denounced by Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Magtanggol Gunigundo as the "mother of all land scams," involved lands transferred to farmers five years earlier, even though CARIL requires a 10-year waiting period before conveyed lands can be transferred.

The land conversion was preceded in 1988 by the entry in the villages of Mamplasan and Ganado of Army special operations teams which harassed leaders, of a local farmers' organization. The total-war units imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, controlled movement, conducted spot checks and surveillance operations and broke up meetings. Four years later, the farmers were totally cowed - and more than willing to sell their lands.

Mass deception

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program spelled out in Republic Act 6657 is widely perceived by its critics as a package of' mass deception in the way it strengthens rather than unshackles the bonds of the country's 10 million or so tillers of the soil.

Unless the government moves fast to redress it, the problem may derail the peace process initiated by President Ramos and abort the country's drive to achieve full industrialization by the year 2000.

Land reform is a major demand of both rightist rebel soldiers and the Marxist Left that the Ramos administration has been trying to coax to the negotiation table. Social justice, encompassing agrarian reform, is one of the talking points raised by the RAM group of rebel soldiers, while the leftist National Democratic Front is pressing for "genuine land reform" as one of its conditions for ending its more than two-decade old insurgency.

Rather than promoting the goal of liquidating the insurgency, a requirement for unimpeded industrialization, an unreformed CARP might trigger a more volatile resurgence of internecine warfare in the countryside, as landlord intimidation and harassment escalate, and more and more farmers are distocated.

Antonio Ma. Nieva is a writer with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. This article is based on a series of articles that ran in the Manila-based newspaper.

Cory Aquino's Sellout

Hacienda Luisita is a mocking testament to agrarian reform in a Third World country, where landlords wield immense political and economic power and, like the feudal barons of medieval Europe, prescribe the law according to their will.

The sprawling 6,443-hectare sugar plantation owned by the Cojuangco family (Corazon Aquino's family) is virtually untouchable. CARL has placed it outside the pale of land reform.

It could have been then-President Corazon Aquino's greatest moment - a truly meaningful act of selflessness - to have fulfilled her campaign promise to place the hacienda under land reform. Instead, it turned out to be a landmark sellout of farmers, providing the institutional prototype for other landlords to evade the coverage of CARL.

To preserve control over their massive plantation, the Cojuangcos exploited the stock-transfer and production-sharing loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Under the stock-option scheme, 7,000 farm workers voted in a referendum for a plan that will make them "part owners" of Hacienda Luisita over the next 30 years. This means that approximately one-thirtieth of the workers' share of stocks will be distributed each year, according to a 1992 study by James Putzel for the PPI.

Under a memorandum of agreement that the company which manages the hacienda signed with workers in May 1989, stock shares are to be distributed to workers according to the number of days they have worked in a year. This means the shares will be based on less than five months of work per year, considering that at any one time the hacienda retains about 3,500 workers, who are rotated every 37 days.

In the profit-sharing scheme, workers are to receive 3 percent of gross sales per year. At 219 million pesos a year, this amounts to 941 pesos-about US$38 - a year per worker.

The stock-option loophole was not an oversight that just slipped through the legislative process; according to the PPI, these provisions were tacked on as compromise concessions for CARP's approval by Congress. And the Cojuangco family played a major role in guaranteeing these concessions would be made.

In the stormy debates that attended the turbulent passage of House Bill 400, which became CARL, the pro-landlord Congress succeeded in killing the proposals forzero-retention for landowners, for the mandatory all-inclusiveness of land reform and for fair-market valuation of lands surrendered to the CARP.

At the head of the landlord juggernaut was Rep. Jose Cojuangco, Cory Aquino's younger brother, who also administers Hacienda Luisita. He is on record as having asked Congress on March 18, 1988 to delay passage of the land reform bill, despite an urgent appeal by the Catholic Church for quick passage.

In his plea, Jaime Cardinal Sin, archbishop of Manila, described HB 400 as being "closer to the Christian ideal."

"I don't know if the Church really understands what [HB 4001 is," retorted Cojuangco, saying it was in the interest of the people that Congress delay the bill's passage. 'We need to study the proposal thoroughly by digesting all agrarian reform-related data and statistics," he said. Congress did, and the result is the package of anguish called CARL.

Proponents of genuine land reform knew at the time what had happened. Scoring the "gang of landlords" in Congress, Rep. Edcel Lagman, then chair of the House Committee on Agrarian Reform, said the amended bill "protects the landed families at the expense of the intended beneficiaries." "Definitely," he added, it's "land to the landed.

- A. M. N.

Crushing Banana Workers

DAVAO CITY, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - The banana plantation workers at Summit Enterprises International (SEI), a joint venture between Jesus Ayala, a prominent Philippine businessman, and Sumitomo, a Japanese investor, were determined not to be made victims of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Organized into the United Workers of SEI (NAMASEI), an affiliate of the militant KMU labor center, they had a history of winning gains in contract negotiations, doing impressive research on their employer and developing relations with international activists.

Advised by the People's Alternative Program for Agri-Workers Institute (PAPAWI), a labor support group, the workers had analyzed the nation's agrarian reform program, and seen how they might turn it to their advantage.

In September 1993, however, their efforts were crushed. As Dolreich Tongcopanon, president of NAMASEI, reports, "Last September 1, 1993, the management called us for a general assembly. We thought that this was the response to our collective bargaining proposal. But it was not." The company told the workers that it was shutting down because of incurred losses, he says, and "171 regular workers were terminated on [that] very day."

An example of how easily the rights of even well-organized agricultural workers in the post-Marcos Philippines can be squashed, the tragedy inflicted on the SEI workers provides a lens through which the fraud of the Aquino land reform and the exploitation of Philippine agricultural workers can be viewed.

Escaping from land reform

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) promised to deliver land to the tillers. It promised to give agricultural workers like those at SEI ownership and control over the land they had worked for so many years. But Ayala, like large landowners throughout the country, found a series of major loopholes in CARP that will enable him and SEI to maintain control of its Southern Mindanao plantation.

First, SEI took advantage of the 10-year deferment from the land reform available to commercial farms. In exercising its right to a 10-year exemption, the company was required to put in place a production/profit-sharing (PPS) program, through which workers would be given 3 percent of the SEI plantation's income.

But the SEI workers charged that Ayala was cheating them out of their share of the income, undercounting the number of boxes and undervaluing the amount received for each box. The workers' PPS payments varied but were always low, amounting to 40 pesos (US$1.60) for each worker in the last quarter of 1992 and more than 200 pesos (US$8.00) in the first quarter of 1993, for example.

SEI's second move to circumvent the land reform involved spinning off parts of its plantation, putting it under the control of local growers who are integrated into SEI's operations. These small landowners, according to PAPAWI's Ariet Sionosa, are in charge of growing the bananas and running the farm, but they sell their produce to SEl. They purchase various inputs for their plantation, but the money is provided by SEI.

By summer 1993, three portions of the plantation had been separated, and SEI's plantation had shrunk from 247 to 164 hectares. The SEI workforce dropped from 276 to 171; many of the SEI workers who lost their jobs were rehired as non-union employees on the spin-off plantations, but were forced to accept wage rates less than two-thirds of what they had been paid by SEI. Most importantly, says Sionosa, when the workers were fired, they received a "separation fee," which amounts to a waiver of their rights to the land under the land reform law.

Then came the final blow, the declaration of bankruptcy. A declaration of bankruptcy was one of the two main options available to Ayala to avoid the land reform, explains PAPAWI's Joel Molina. The alternative was to transfer the plantation to a bogus cooperative; the cooperative would nominally be run by management-selected workers but in fact would operate under the control of management. This option was not available to SEI, given the level of organization of its workers, so it pursued the other available route: claiming bankruptcy and dismissing all of the workers who had a land reform claim on the plantation.

NAMASEI President Tongcopanon asserts there is little doubt that the declaration of bankruptcy was mere pretense. The company continued to make PPS payments through the second quarter of 1993 and hired summer contractual workers in response to high market demand, he notes. Most telling, perhaps, is the heavy security guard presence on the plantation and the apparent importation of a new, temporary workforce. On September 2, Tongcopanon reports, "one 1 0-wheeler truck was seen entering the plantation loaded with men whom we knew of later as the [summer] contractual workers." Finally, he emphasizes that banana plantations in the region are generally expanding - and among those expanding are other plantations owned by Ayala.

A microcosm of exploitation

The SEI story is exemplary not only of the failure of CARP, but also of the structure of the Philippine agricultural sector, the plight of agricultural workers and the interconnections between Philippine agriculture and the international economy.

Jesus Ayala is representative of the large-landlord class in the Philippines, and of its far-reaching influence. According to NAMASEI research, he owns more than half a dozen other plantations; cocoa and cut flower commercial farms; a construction company and two real estate companies; aviation, shipping and other transport companies; and a plastics firm. He has served as special presidential advisor for Mindanao and has played an active role in developing economic linkages between Southeast Asian nations.

The bananas picked at Ayala's SEI, like so much of the Philippines' agricultural produce, is shipped to foreign markets: in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Ayala and SEI's adversary on the other side of the bargaining table, NAMASEI, emerged out of a company union formed by management initiative in the mid-1970s. In a 1987 election, the union voted to affiliate itself with the National Federation of Labor, a member of the KMU labor center. Joining with the KMU brought the workers harassment from company security guards, civilian defense patrols and government military forces.

Guided by an aggressive leadership, NAMASEI was able to push up workers' wages from 60 pesos a day in 1989 to 111 pesos in 1993. The biggest wage jump came in 1989, when a national strike won workers a 25 pesos-a-day pay increase. More than 80 percent of the SEI workers participated in the 1989 general strike, according to Rosito Marquita, NAMASEI board of directors chair, and management fired one worker for participating in it.

Even with the wage gains made in recent years, however, SEI workers' daily compensation amounted to about US$4.50, less than half of the government-defined poverty line.

The 111 pesos - which was the amount the highest paid worker received-was simply too little to live on, says Marquita. "As a result, we are buried in debt," he says. Most of the workers' children only go to sixth grade, since their parents cannot afford the cost of sending them to secondary school, and families routinely go with inadequate housing and clothing. "However," jokes one SEI worker, "we do have air conditioned housing - open air houses."

The workers had serious health concerns, as well, most of them attributable to the vast array of chemicals with which they worked. Women working in the plantation packinghouse complained of having problems bearing children and tumors in their uteruses. The mostly male banana pickers complained of headaches, a variety of skin rashes and more serious concerns, such as hepatitis.

The workers were able to document 9 different nematocides with which they worked, 6 herbicides, 11 fungicides, 8 insecticides and 11 fertilizers. In some cases, Tongcopanon charges, the company detached warning labels on the chemical containers. The workers also allege that some of the chemicals they used are banned in the Philippines.

The German multinational "Bayer was the number one" manufacturer of the chemicals the workers used, says Marquita. Other manufacturers included Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Hoechst, Shell, Ciba-Geigy and ICI.

In one of the sad ironies of the Philippines and contemporary intemational economic life, while the low-wage NAMASEI members may be out of work, if their allegations about continued operation of the SEI are correct, then the plantation will undoubtedly still be employing the products of these giant chemical companies.?

- Robert Weissman

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