Philippines: Seven wounded in banana farmer shooting

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Philippines: Seven wounded in banana farmer shooting

Guards from Lapanday Foods Corp have been accused of shooting at farmers amid a heated land dispute in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Banana-shutterstock_108692690

The story reported the testimony of Monico Dayahan of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (Marbai), who said a group of 50 farmers were fired upon while on their way to harvest bananas in the Tagum City area on Monday morning.

Dayahan told the publication 10 security guards, allegedly from Lapanday which is currently involved in a land dispute with Marbai, fired without warning and seven were wounded.

Farmworker Jojo Gomez was reportedly fighting for his life in the aftermath.

"We never expected it. We were just on our way to harvest bananas when they shot us," Dayahan was quoted as saying. 

 Lapanday denied any involvement in the attack in a statement given to the publication.

"Lapanday Foods Corp. denies any involvement in the reported shooting of alleged agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City this morning," the group was quoted as saying.

Marbai is currently claiming 145 hectares of land from Lapanday and farmers have reportedly been manning a barricade in protest since last week. 

The story reported Provincial Agrarian Reform Jose Nilo Tillano ordered a reinstatement of Marbai farmworkers in December last year, but they never got their lands back.

However, Lapanday told the publication it had been requesting police assistance since last week due to the presence of armed men seen in areas under the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative 1 (HEARBCO-1), which Lapanday claims could be involved in the conflict.

Lapanday told the Philippine Daily Inquirer a leader of Marbai was ejected from HEARBCO in 2011 and was now "engaging armed men to inflict violence and disrupt operations in the farm".

"This internal conflict among the HEARBCO-1 and this breakaway group may be the reason for this latest incident,” Lapanday was quoted as saying in the statement. 

In response, one of the farm leaders Antonio Tuyak told the publication Lapanday's claim was "preposterous".

"The men who shot us were wearing security guard uniforms and were armed with shotguns. Now who has the capacity to hire them? Who were attacked?" Tuyak was quoted as saying.

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