By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A labor leader was shot dead by two unidentified assailants at around 10 p.m. on March 8 along Governor’s Drive in Langkaan village, Dasmarinas, Cavite, according to the Workers Assistance Center Inc. (WAC).
Celito Baccay, 31, a key leader and organizer of the union in Maeno Giken, a Japanese-owned manufacturer of steel, iron and stainless steel products, is the 41st victim of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration.
Witnesses said that the gunmen flagged Baccay’s motorcycle and shot him at point-blank range. The victim sustained gunshot wounds in the head and in the chest. He was rushed to the De La Salle University Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival at 10:45 p.m.
Baccay’s wife Leonila told WAC that a week before the incident, her husband turned down a promotion offered by the management that would have disqualified him from the union. This, according to Leonila, angered the management. According to WAC, Baccay was instrumental in the formation of the union in the Japanese-owned company in 2009.
Merly Grafe, chairwoman of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), expressed alarm over the incident. Grafe said another union leader, Nolan Maquincio, survived assassination attempt on Nov. 22, 2010. Grafe said that both Baccay and Maquincio earned the ire of their respective management due to their active roles in union organizing.
“Workers form unions and organizations so that they can collectively advance their legitimate demands and protect them from attacks against their rights and welfare. But what we are witnessing are various forms of trade union repression perpetuated by the government and big private local and foreign corporations through promoting contractualization schemes, labor rights violations and killings of labor leaders,” Roger Soluta, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) secretary general, said.
Maquincio, 45, public relations officer of Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Hoffen Industries (United Workers of Hoffen Industries), a union under Olalia Federation-Kilusang Mayo Uno, was stabbed by an unidentified man while he waiting for a ride home. He survived the incident.
According to WAC, this was the second attempt on Maquincio’s life. In September 2007, a man wearing a ski mask slammed a rock on his head that left him unconscious. At that time, Maquincio and his co-workers were starting to form a KMU-affiliated union while the management was pushing for the formation of a Labor-Management Consultative Council (LMCC) to thwart any attempt of Maquincio’s group to form a union.
Maquincio personally believes that the latest attempt on his life was due mainly to his involvement in union activities.
Hoffen Industries Corporation is owned by Lawrence Ang, also known as Lawrence delos Santos who is also the president of the Confederation of Garments Exporters of the Philippines (CONGEP). Hoffen supplies pants, blouses, and jackets to known brands like AnnTaylor and Ralph Lauren which are both from the US. Its materials sources are from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Turkey and Portugal.
After the LMCC failed, the Hoffen management tried to form a company union under the Alyansa ng Malayang Obrero (Alliance of Free Labor) but suddenly shifted its open support to a chartered local union Philippine Alliance of Free Labor Union (PAFLU) in a representation election held in July 2008. The NMHI-Olalia-KMU lost its bid in the said election but continued to be vocal against anti-workers policies inside the company.
In recent months prior to the second attempt on his life, PAFLU members asked the assistance of Maquincio for a general election of officers in their union. The PAFLU members wanted a 100 percent change of leadership because their union officers allegedly are not serving the interests of the workers but of the management.
According to WAC, Maquincio also used his meetings with PAFLU to assail the illegal subcontracting of jobs in Hoffen.
In a separate statement, the KMU demanded justice for Baccay and all victims of political killings and called on the Filipino workers and people to fight Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.