The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) along with its funding partner Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is heading efforts to reopen two huge banana plantations in Maguindanao province that employed some 4,000 workers.
Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said many of the said workers are former Moro rebel combatants. “Yesterday, I met with DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa to thresh out the details of the financial loan package, which the bank would grant to revive the banana farms with a total area of over 1,500 hectares,” he said.
He said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has warned that the continued economic difficulties faced by the displaced workers could have serious implications on the peace and security of Maguindanao Province. “The banana plantations, owned by Filipino-American John Perrine, are the Al Sahar and La Fruttera Banana Farms in Talayan and Datu Paglas towns, respectively, all considered critical areas because of the presence of ISIS-inspired armed groups, closed down two years ago following economic difficulties and lack of operational funds,” the MinDA chief said. During his visit to Maguindanao Province on May 11, following the attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Paglas,
President Rodrigo Duterte directed MinDA to work for the reopening of the plantations. Duterte also instructed MinDA to coordinate with other agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), to ensure that the displaced farm workers are given food assistance until they are back to work. “MinDA, DSWD, DND-OCD, MSWD-BARMM and other agencies have implemented the food distribution directives of the President.
MinDA, in the meantime, has identified a new investor which will take over the two plantations from the Perrine Group and reoperate the farm,” Piñol added. On Thursday (June 3) MinDA will organize a virtual conference between DBP Officials, the new investor’s group and other stakeholders to finally resolve the minor issues. “When this is done, MinDA will make a final report and recommendations to the President within the month of June,” Piñol assured. ###