Lepanto Files Raps vs Mayor for ‘Assisting’ Workers

Mining giant Lepanto Consolidated, beset by a two-month old strike, filed charges of corrupt practices under Republic Act 3019 against the Mankayan mayor and his secretary because they gave the striking workers permit to rally.

BY Artemio A. Dumlao
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat.com

La Trinidad, Benguet—­ Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (Lepanto) has filed charges of corrupt practices under Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) against Mankayan Mayor Manalo Galuten and his secretary, Panelo Ambas, for allegedly assisting the striking workers, thereby causing “considerable damage” against the mining giant.

Lepanto’s Atty. Ronald Recidoro filed on July 27 charges against Galuten and Ambas before the Office of the Ombudsman for Northern Luzon.

In its complaint, Lepanto stated that the local government of Mankayan had been virtually obstructing the arrest of labor leaders. Recidoro accused the respondents of personally filing the bail bond in behalf of the arrested workers.

Galuten and Ambas reportedly “failed to observe the exacting standards of personal conduct of public officials and employees in the discharge and execution of official duties.”

Also mentioned in the complaint was the mayor’s issuance of a permit to rally for the workers on July 23, which Recidoro said favored the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU). Recidoro claimed “the permit authorized the strikers to enter the Lepanto’s administrative office to stage a mass action in front of the Lepanto General Office — a private property beyond the realm of respondent’s power and jurisdiction.”

In the rally, however, LEU officers read the permit to fellow workers, supporters and company representatives present (lawyers Weldy Manlong and Mark Maranes). The permit only allowed the workers to hold a program “in front of the General Office,” and not inside the administrative office as Lepanto claimed.

Lepanto said that the mayor’s permit was issued without consulting or acquiring Lepanto’s consent to the proposed rally.

In an interview, LEU spokesperson and auditor Ronald Maslian said Lepanto had no reason to vent its ire on Galuten and Ambas.

“As the mayor of this town he was well aware of his actions when he issued the permit, and he recognizes our (workers) right to freedom of expression which our Constitution guarantees,” Maslian said. Northern Dispatch/Posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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