A number of the rescued sakadas are unable to read and write and were recruited through verbal agreements and/or upon endorsement of lumad chieftains. They were promised a “Tarlac package” consisting of a daily wage of P450 plus benefits, including free meals and provisions or board and lodging, and travel to and from Hacienda Luisita. They were also promised P7,000 cash advance in three tranches.
According to the victims, lumad cheftains or datus were also promised that if they were able to recruit people to work as sakadas, Baitus or Greenhand would help them in their ancestral land claims. Baitus also reportedly convinced the victims to work in Tarlac because it is part of a “livelihood project” of President Duterte.
Wages still P9.50 a day
When the sakadas arrived, they were housed in a cramped, poorly-ventilated and stinky bunkhouse in barangay Mapalacsiao, near the CAT sugar mill in Hacienda Luisita. Instead of the P450 daily wage, they were paid a pakyaw or group rate of P220 per ton of sugar cane cut and hauled into trucks.
They say that they were made to work from 4:00 in the morning up to 5:00 in the afternoon in sugar cane fields not just in Hacienda Luisita, but in other sugar plantations within Central and Northern Luzon. They reportedly were made to work in as far as Arayat in Pampanga, Pangasinan or almost or “near Baguio.”
Based on weekly payrolls that UMA obtained, the workers received weekly wages from a low of P66.21 to a high of P898.20 a week or P9.46 to P128.31 a day – due to numerous deductions. The minimum wage for plantation agricultural workers in Central Luzon is P 334 a day.
Workers had to pay for their own food and provisions. There were times that a group of sacadas would only eat congee and sardines for a team of 8-13 persons. Some experienced eating only salt along with rice, while some went to work in the fields with empty stomachs.
The sakadas also did not receive any benefits. The P 5,000 cash advance was further deducted for supplies such as plates, rice cooker and espading or bolo used to cut cane.
The victims are poised to file labor and trafficking cases against the recruiter, Greenhand, and the principal employer, Agrikulto Inc. and Central Azucarera de Tarlac.
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