While protests against the continued stay of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo heighten in Metro Manila and key cities nationwide, the workers at Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) continue to fight for their rights and welfare. The management, however, with the help of the police, has only responded with violence at the picket line as the strike reaches its fifth week.
BY SARAH DEKDEKEN-SIBAYAN, ALDWIN QUITASOL AND ABI BENGWAYAN
Posted by Bulatlat
MANKAYAN, Benguet — The unfolding drama at the picket line continues as the fifth week of the miners’ strike saw a series of arrests and dispersals, the latest of which happened last July 9.
Nineteen members of the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) were arrested last July 2 at around 2:30 a.m. They were detained at the Mankayan Municipal Jail for 38 hours.
Immediately after, some 100 elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) dispersed the protesting workers of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) who were at the picket line near the Nayak gate.
Arrested were Manuel Allibang, Rex Kacweis, Albert Pongchai-en, Tony Sabino, Rudy Sabino, Rod Ngeteg, Pablo Lumiwes, Benson Kesaed, Micheal Marnag, Julius Sagayo, Marcelino Guimpac, Johnson Mangalog, Marcelino Sacantiwan, Lambert Domoguen, Joseph Maragcay, Nelson Badua, Alfred Lugnas, Paterno Basingan and Melchor Kia-ew.
Fifteen workers were leaving the Mill Site picket area near the Carlos Palanca Jr. (CPJ) Center after a shift in the picket line when policemen from Camp Bado Dangwa led by Col. Ernesto Gaab and retired Col. Wilhelm Doromal, head of company security, shoved the workers inside three police cars. Thirty minutes after, four more LEU members were arrested at the Nayak picket area during the dispersal.
One of the striking workers reportedly injured his shoulder as a result of the scuffle. Sagayo, one of the arrested workers, said that the PNP nabbed them without showing a warrant of arrest or even explaining why they were being arrested.
“Idi magmagnaak a mapan agawid idiay Pukitan, adda agarup lima nga armado nga pulis nga bigla nga nangiguyodguyod ken nangidur-duron kanyak. Nakitak met lang nga adda met dagiti kakadwak a mangmangged nga tiniliw da ket nainayonak kadakuwada (When I was going home to Pukitan, around five armed police officers suddenly grabbed me and started dragging and pushing me. They brought me to their service vehicle where I saw some of my companions who were also arrested).”
Sagayo added that some of the policemen kicked them while they were being arrested.
Kia-ew, one of the four workers arrested in Nayak, said that armed police officers approached their picket line and immediately handcuffed him. “Idi ip-ipan dak dagiti pulis idiay lugan da, nakitak ken nanggeg ko nga inkasaan dagiti pulis sada pinaturungan ti paltog dagiti um-umay a kakadwak a da Basingan ken Lugnas tapno kuma sumublat nga agbantay iti piketlayn. Inguyod dagiti pulis isuda ket inserrek dakami idiay lugan da. Tiniliw da met diay maysa a kadua mi nga ni Badua idiay Sapid nga adda lang nga agin-inana idiay maysa nga store (When the police officers were bringing me to there service vehicle, I saw some of the policemen cock their firearms and aim at Basingan and Lugnas. Badua, one of our companions, was arrested even if he was only resting in a sari-sari store in Barangay Sapid).”
While detained, the workers were told that they would only be released if they paid P2,000 ($35.65, based on an exchange rate of P56.10 per U.S. dollar) bail each.
Families of the detainees and other protesters were denied entry at the gate of the Municipal Hall two hours after the series of arrests. When they asked why they were arrested, Sr. Inspector Edward Aquintey, Mankayan chief of police, said they stand accused of harassment.