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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

President Rody Duterte has directed the Mindanao Development Authority to resolve a potentially explosive situation in Central Mindanao after the closure of three huge banana farms dislocated almost 4,000 workers, mostly former rebel combatants.

The President tasked MinDA in initially extending assistance to the displaced workers, most of whom are former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberatiom Front and the Moro National Liberal Front, while exploring ways to reopen the plantations.

The instructions were issued by the President to the MinDA during the command conference held in Awang, Odin Sinsuat on May 11 following the eruption of atrocities involving the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Paglas and other areas in Maguindanao.

The displaced workers were formerly employed by three banana companies identified with John Perrine whose companies suffered financial difficulties after failing to access loan funds from government financing institutions.

During a Virtual Conference organized by MinDA on May 14, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process warned that the failure of government to resolve the problem could threaten the peace and security in the area.

The OPAPP said that given the volatility of the situation, the displaced former combatants could be vulnerable to the offers of support by the small terror group, BIFF.

During the said conference, the different agencies of government were represented.

Sec. Emmanuel F. Pinol, Usec. Janet M. Lopoz and Asec. Cherry Santos Akbar and the MinDA staff represented MinDA while John Paul Perrine, Chairman, La Fruittera Inc. and Edgar Bullecer, Manager, Paglas Corp., represented the banana companies.

Usec. Ricardo Jalad of the Office for Civil Defense, represented Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and was supported by Dir. Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro IV, Dir. Minda C. Morante and Susana Quiambao. Director Farrah Grace V. Naparan represented OPAPP while Col. Glenn Caballero, represented OG7, 6 th Inf. Div. Phil. Army.

Usec. Fel Budiongan rerepsented DSWD, along with Dir. Raylindo Aniñon and Bonifacio Silva, Jr. Asst. Reg. Director- DSWD 12

Others who participated were Peter Paul Gomez, DTI, CPAB and Ismail Guiamel, Director, BARMM-MAFAR.

The participating agencies agreed that while MinDA is working on the resolution of the issues involving the revival and rehabilitation of the banana farms, assistance will be extended to displaced workers of the companies.

The DSWD, with the support of MinDA, had already extended food assistance to the displaced workers while other agencies committed support until the resolution of the problem.

MinDA is scheduled to hold today another meeting with the Perrine group to explore options on how to revive the banana farms.

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