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Farmworkers trafficked around The Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): The Rural Missionaries of The Philippines reported on January 23 that the southern region of Mindanao has become a hotbed of trafficking in farm labour.

While migrant workers have often been the target of trafficking rings, it seems that staying home is no protection from the lassoes of those that buy and sell people for a living.

A spokesperson for Rural Missionaries, Sister Famita Somogod, said that her group had discovered around 1,000 farmworkers literally living in what she described as slave-like conditions.

“The recruiters and employers do not see them as human,” Sister Somogod said.

In December last year, the Peasant Movement of The Philippines claimed that it had rescued 52 farmworkers from Mindanao who were working on a sugarcane plantation in the northern part of the country.

Then on January 16, another 18 farmers escaped from a plantation owned by the family of former president, Noynoy Aquino, in Tarlac.

“There must be a full-blown investigation on massive-scale human trafficking of workers,” Danilo Ramos, the secretary-general of the peasant group, said.

The farmers claim they only received up to 18 pesos ($2.95) for an eight-hour workday. They also claim that they were made to work long hours and were kept in a cramped bunkhouse.

The government and the management of the farm are yet to issue a statement on the farmers’ claims.

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