Union Member Shot Dead, Workers Fear Intensification of Extrajudicial Killings


As the deadline of the Arroyo government’s counterinsurgency program draws near, another labor leader was killed in Laguna.

At around 5:20 p.m., June 2, worker Edward Panganiban, 27, was on his way to work on board his motorcycle when unidentified men gunned him down in a crowded street in Barangay Caingin, Santa Rosa City, Laguna. He died on the spot after sustaining 12 gunshot wounds.

Witnesses said the two assailants, wearing bonnets and helmets, immediately fled on a red Honda XRM motorcycle with no plate number, only a “for registration” sign was written on the plate.

Panganiban works for Japanese-owned Takata Philippines Incorporated inside the Laguna Technopark Incorporated (LTI) and the elected secretary of independent union Samahang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Takata Philippines (Salamat-Independent).

Co-workers reported that Panganiban had been receiving threats before the incident. Some family members also said suspicious men who were wearing bonnets frequented their neighborhood.

Labor Dispute

“Most union officers and members received threats and experienced harassments,” said union president Fidel Panis.

Since March 2010, the workers had been conducting picket protests to compel Takata management to recognize the union and agree to sit down with the workers to frame a collective bargaining agreement.

Panis also reported that agents of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) visited some union officers, dissuading them from pursuing their union activities.

“Just last week, one of our executive officers found out that he was being monitored by an intelligence operative in his home.”

“Even company security guards would take pictures and videos of us, marking our faces, whenever we hold peaceful protest actions during break times,” he added.

Panis said it is difficult to believe that Takata management has no involvement in the murder of Panganiban and the threats and surveillance against union officers and members.

Beating the Deadline

A fact-finding mission was conducted yesterday June 3 by the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers Rights-Southern Tagalog and Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik-KMU).

The team concluded that Panganiban is another victim of extra-judicial killings. “He is the ninth victim of extra-judicial killings from the labor movement in Southern Tagalog while 96th for the whole country since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001,” said Hermie Marasigan, spokesperson of Pamantik-KMU.

The counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL)’s deadline will be this June. Karapatan chairwoman Marie Hilao-Enriquez described the OBL as the most vicious counterinsurgency program since martial law years as it targets members of civil society organizations.

“After slowing down in extra-judicial killings in recent years, the US-Arroyo regime is bent on intensifying the killings again in the remaining days of her term,” Marasigan added.

Marasigan challenged President-apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to render justice to the victims of extrajudicial killings. (Bulatlat.com)

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