THE LANDBANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) on Tuesday said it is working with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government to come up with assistance program for employees affected by the closure of a P3.7-billion banana business venture in Maguindanao.

In a statement, the state-led bank said its local lending center has been discussing with the BARMM’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform and the Ministry of Local Government to help 1,039 workers, who are mostly members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The closed company, Al Sahar Agri Ventures, Inc. (ASAVI), started operations in Nov. 2014 in a 350-hectare banana plantation, which was part of the government’s peace deal with the MILF.

“It is unfortunate that farmers employed in ASAVI have been affected by this development. We recognize their dilemma and understand their concerns,” LANDBANK Executive Vice President for Corporate Services Julio D. Climaco, Jr. said.

Mr. Climaco said a meeting was held last Tuesday with BARMM officials, but he has yet to receive an update on the discussions.

ASAVI earlier said it terminated its operations due to various reasons, including the delay in the release of a loan from LANDBANK. The bank, on the other hand, said the company has been unable to complete its requirements. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang