By Mark Garcia
BACOLOD CITY – The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law will adversely affect some 300,000 sugarcane workers in the Negros provinces, as the prices of basic commodities increase, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) said.
Rolando Rillo, NFSW Chairman said in a protest staged at the Old Bacolod City Hall Wednesday that the 300,000 sugarcane workers in Negros are paid through ‘pakyaw’ or quota system and will absorb the impact of the TRAIN law.
Rillo said most of the workers in the sugarcane fields are now suffering from the effects of the tax reform, given that they were only given P30 to P50 a day depending on their pakyaw are much lower than the minimum wage of regular workers.
“Sugar workers cannot take more burdens like this. This is contrary to what President Rodrigo Duterte promised that it could help more people in the masses,” he said, adding that the prices of the commodities continue to increase until the workers cannot afford to buy them anymore.
NFSW also urged the Department of Trade and Industry to take a look at the prices of goods, especially in the small sari-sari stores and markets.
With the sugar crisis still prevailing in Negros, Rillo said the situation of the sugar workers is now more unstable, given that big planters are now cutting production costs and expenses by hiring lesser workers.
He said this crisis that involves the continued lowering of sugar prices plus TRAIN makes the situation of the Negrense sugarcane workers worse.
NFSW also aired their opposition to the ‘anti-people’ policies of Duterte like the tax reform and the proposed shift to a federal type of government.
Rillo said another protest will be held on January 22, the 31st anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre, where several protesting farmers were killed.