Labor leader Benjamin Villeno notified his colleague at Pamatink-KMU Hermie Marasigan, through text messages, that he was being tailed by suspected state agents. Villeno even told Marasigan he would try to lose his tail before going home. He never got home and his colleagues at Pamantik-KMU never heard from him since.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Human rights and labor groups condemned the abduction of labor leader Benjamin Villeno last August 27.
Villeno, a leader-organizer of Pamantik, the regional chapter of Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Tagalog, was last seen by his colleagues on August 27.
According to human rights watchdog Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, Villeno notified his colleague at Pamatink-KMU Hermie Marasigan, through text messages, that he was being tailed by suspected state agents. He was on his way to his family in Cavite. Villeno even told Marasigan he would try to lose his tail before going home.
Villeno never got home and his colleagues at Pamantik-KMU never heard from him since.
Glendhyl Malabananan, Karapatan-Southern Tagalog secretary general, said only the military has the motive and means to abduct Villeno. She said that since 2001, during the height of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Batay Laya, Villeno experienced harassment and surveillance from the military’s intelligence agents.
According to Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, there are already three victims of enforced disappearance in the region under the Aquino administration. The two other victims — tricycle driver Alfredo Bucal and farmer Felix Balaston — remain missing to this day.
“We call on Aquino and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop this dirty tactic of abduction and enforced disappearance,” Malabanan said.
In a separate statement, KMU also condemned the abduction of Ben Villeno and held the Aquino government responsible for his disappearance.
“Aquino, through his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, has been subjecting workers to all forms of human-rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, abductions and suppression of our rights to freedom of expression and association,” Labog said.
“This is the true face of Aquino’s daang matuwid for workers a brutal attack against workers who are at the forefront of the struggle to oppose his corrupt, militarist, anti-worker and anti-people regime,” he added.
Karapatan-Southern Tagalog and KMU called on the Aquino government to surface Villeno.
“We call on Aquino and his minions in the military to surface Villeno. There is no other place to find a missing unionist and labor leader but in military camps. We will continue to fight for justice for the growing number of workers who are victims of Aquino’s repressive government,” Labog said.