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Del Monte accused of links to violence against indigenous people in Philippines

GLOBAL fruit producers Del Monte have been accused of links to the perpetrators of violence against indigenous activists in the Philippines as attacks against land and environmental defenders escalate.

A scathing report from Global Witness released on Wednesday uncovered connections between Del Monte Philippines and the local rancher and current Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III of Quezon, Bukidnon, who activists suspect of ordering attacks on them.

The group warned that Del Monte failed to identify historic land conflicts and maintained an agreement with Mr Lorenzo despite violent attacks against indigenous people on his ranch, including the 2017 murder of Renato Anglao.

Mr Anglao was the general secretary of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA).

He was shot in the head in front of his wife and five-year-old son after demanding Mr Lorenzo return the community’s land, which his company, the Montalvan Ranch, was using for agribusiness plantations. 

Nobody has been charged with the killing.

The new Global Witness investigation revealed how Del Monte Philippines had a business agreement with Mr Lorenzo to grow pineapples for them.

They employed him as a consultant, and renewed contracts with him even after evidence of violence associated with his ranches came to light and a government commission backed community claims.

Del Monte Philippines is a major exporter of pineapples to Del Monte Foods Inc in the United States. 

It claimed that it had taken steps to end the relationship with Mr Lorenzo over his role as a public official, but said it was not aware of the community land claims and the allegations of violence.

Global Witness spokesman Ben Leather said: “It shows that corporate greed is not being held to account in the Philippines, with those standing up and speaking out being silenced without consequence.”

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