Sugar workers, ARBs back 12 Senate bets

THE Labor Unity for the Sugar Industry (Lusi), a broad alliance of sugar workers and agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations, is pushing for 12 senatorial candidates to carry the advocacy of the workers and the sugar industry in the Senate.

Included in Lusi's slate are the Labor Win coalition candidates comprising of former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares, Bukluranng Manggagawang Pilipino chairman Leody de Guzman, National Confederation of Labor president Ernesto Arellano, Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula, and labor lawyer Allan Montano.

Four incumbent senators, namely, Cynthia Villar, Koko Pimentel, JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay, also made it to the list, as well as Negrense Raffy Alunan and come-backing senatorial aspirants Serge Osmena and Mar Roxas.

Comprising the Lusi alliance are the ARBs Sugar Farmers Federation Kilusang Pagbabago (ASFF-KP); National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW); National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (Nacusip); Philippine Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (Paciwu); Congress of Independent Organizations (CIO); Democratic Association of Labor Organizations (Dalo); Alliance of Labor for Reforms (Alarm); Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Commercial and Agro-Industrial Labor Organization (Cailo); United Sugar Farmworkers Organization (Usfo); and Nacusip-ARBs Group, among others.

"Colmenares, de Guzman, Arellano, Matula and Montano have spent their entire lives fighting for workers' rights. If we want senators who can represent the welfare of the labor sector, we should elect candidates who come from the workers' ranks," the group stated in its press statement.

The Labor Win coalition's advocacy centers on pro-worker and pro-agriculture policies, such as the end to contractualization, decent jobs and wages, just treatment for OFWs, lowering of inflation and strengthening of the agriculture sector.

On the other hand, Villar, Pimentel, Ejercito and Binay have a consistent track record, both in deeds and in words, of supporting the sugar industry.

"From the passage of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, to the battle against high fructose corn syrup and the retention of the P2 billion SIDA allocation for the sugar industry, up to the present existential threat of sugar import liberalization, Villar, Pimentel, Ejercito and Binay have stood by the sugar industry," the group stressed.

Moreover, Lusi pointed out in a press conference Tuesday, April 30, that from the grandfathers of Alunan, Osmeña and Roxas down to the present generation, sugar runs in the blood of these three candidates.

"The Alunan, Osmeña-dela Rama and Roxas-Araneta families still cultivate sugarcane in Negros, they have been part of the sugar industry's colorful history, and they have demonstrated deep concern for the sugar industry," the group added.

Alan Gozon of Dalo said that Roxas was hugely instrumental in preventing the Bureau of Internal Revenue from imposing Value Added Tax on raw sugar, and he sponsored a law which exempted minimum wage earners from payment of income tax.

The group emphasized that the selection of Lusi's slate is a collegial decision, which transcends political color and expediency.

"Our choice was based on who can best represent the interests of the labor sector and who has demonstrated concern for and has actually helped the sugar industry, regardless whether he or she is pro or anti-Duterte administration," the group stated.

"We comprise the majority of warm bodies in the sugar industry. Our members and our families are committed to campaign for these candidates," the group said.

They also called on their millions of brothers and sisters in the labor sector, as well as the hundreds of thousands of marginal farmers, farm workers and their families, to support these 12 candidates, whom they believe will promote the rights of workers and will fight for the welfare of the sugar industry.


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