The KMU is tagged as a “rebel group” in a high school textbook; one of its lawyers is slapped with criminal charges in connection with the burning of a cellsite; there was an attempt to break into their national office. All these, says one of the KMU’s leaders, have the objective of destroying the workers’ movement.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
The executive vice chairman and the chief legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) have condemned the labor center’s tagging as a “rebel group” in a high school textbook that has been in circulation since 2003.
In the book Filipino: Wika at Panitikan sa Makabagong Henerasyon I (Filipino: Language and Literature for the New Generation I) – written by Angelina Binsol and Teresita Lacsina, examined by Encarnacion Jimenez, and published by Diwa Scholastic Press, Inc., the KMU is listed as a “rebel group” along with the New People’s Army (NPA), the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The listing occurs as part of an exercise where the students are instructed to research on how to contribute toward the surrender of these groups’ members.
The same list describes the NPA as being under the leadership of Bernabe Buscayno, more commonly known by his former nom de guerre “Kumander Dante”.
For several years during the 1960s and 1970s, Buscayno was known as the highest-ranking NPA leader. He was arrested in 1976 and, together with opposition politician Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., was found guilty of subversion, illegal possession of firearms, and murder. He was sentenced to death by firing squad two years later. But his sentence was never carried out and he lived to see what is now known as the EDSA I uprising of 1986, which ousted the Marcos regime. He never rejoined the NPA: he ran for senator in 1987, and has repeatedly declared that he no longer believes in the armed struggle.
In an Oct. 11 press conference in Quezon City, KMU executive vice chairman Lito Ustarez said the tagging of the KMU as a “rebel group” is part of the government’s offensive against its critics. “Because the KMU is the one labor center that really advances workers’ interests, it is being lumped into the same league with groups that are considered enemies of the state,” Ustarez said.
The KMU executive vice chairman said the union’s tagging as a “rebel group”, which they discovered last September, is just one of the many forms of harassment that they have been experiencing, not just from the Arroyo administration but also from capitalists.
He cirted the case of Remigio Saladero, KMU’s chief legal counsel, who was recently accused by telecommunications corporation Globe Philippines of being among 27 “NPA members” who burned the company’s cellsite in Batangas. Saladero, together with 26 Southern Tagalog activists – all leaders of legal and progressive organizations – has been slapped with criminal charges in connection with the Globe cellsite burning.
“They tagged him as an NPA member to have an excuse for arresting him without warrant,” Ustarez said.
Saladero, for his part, denounced the criminal charges against him and the 26 Southern Tagalog activists as “false, incredible, fantastic, and part of the intensifying repression of workers.”
He noted that even labor lawyers are no longer spared from open harassment. “This is so that no one will be left to defend workers,” he said.
Ustarez also cited a recent attempt to break into the KMU office in Quezon City. On Oct. 6, at around 3 a.m., a man carrying a knife was seen scaling the walls of the Balai Obrero compound in Proj. 3, Quezon City, where the KMU national office is based. Citing eyewitness accounts, Ustarez said the man was accompanied by three lookouts in a tricycle nearby. When one of the neighbors was awakened, the man jumped down and ran off with his companions.
Ustarez said they suspect the would-be burglars could actually be military personnel. “Witnesses said they were burly men sporting crew-cut hair,” he said.
The KMU leader said all these “attacks” against his group have the objective of destroying the workers’ movement. (Bulatlat)