“This is a clear attack on the democratic rights of unionists and workers who are fighting for legitimate rights.”
By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA ROSA, Laguna – The 202nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office 4-A are preparing to deploy their forces to barangay Pulo, Cabuyao, Laguna, according to information received by labor group Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik-KMU).
This group believes that the police and military are preparing to target union offices in Cabuyao, including the offices of Pamantik-KMU and Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA-KMU), keeping with the AFP and PNP’s allegations of these groups being “front organizations” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“This is in clear relation to statements made by Raffy Baylosis and his accusations that OLALIA and PAMANTIK were affiliated with the CPP-NPA,” said Dandy Miguel, Vice Chairperson of Pamantik-KMU. “This is a clear attack on the democratic rights of unionists and workers who are fighting for legitimate rights.”
On May 1, Labor Day, the AFP and PNP conducted a press conference in Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba, where 16 workers were presented as “former members” of the New People’s Army who “surrendered” to authorities. Pamantik-KMU exposed the farce, asserting that they were workers of Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa who were shuttled into the camp.
One of the “surrenderees” was Rafael Baylosis, a former labor-leader in Coca-Cola. In 2018, Baylosis was one of the leaders of a strike by Coca-Cola workers who clamored for regularization.
Baylosis also accused leaders like Hermie Marasigan, National President of OLALIA-KMU, of being “recruiters” of the CPP-NPA.
Baylosis and other former Coca-Cola labor leader Rey Medellin were condemned by PAMANTIK-KMU and Defend Coca-Cola Workers PH as “traitors to their fellow workers and the entire working class.”
“The Duterte regime is becoming desperate in its attempts to silence workers who are struggling for better wages, benefits, and regularization,” Miguel said, pointing out that harassment against workers and labor leaders has intensified since the start of the government-imposed lockdown.
Contractual Coca-Cola workers and members of Liga ng Manggagawa para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (LIGA) have been victims of harassment and false allegations of being members of the revolutionary NPA as early as April 1.
On April 23, nine Coca-Cola workers were taken to Camp Macario Sakay in Los Baños, Laguna for interrogation amid accusations of being members of the NPA.
Aside from Coca-Cola workers, leaders in other unions are also targets of harassment. Nedo Lagunias, an officer of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN) was visited by police officers, April 18, and accused of being an NPA member.
The latest in these series of attacks, said Miguel, was the May 4 ABS-CBN shutdown, which displaced “almost 11,000 workers in the name of a personal vendetta.”
The incidents, Miguel said, were characteristic of Duterte “taking advantage of the pandemic to assail human rights.”
“Instead of giving proper aid to workers in this time of crisis, Duterte and his capitalist masters are busy attacking workers’ rights and putting people out of a job,” he added.
According to an earlier statement by Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, the Duterte administration’s efforts to provide assistance to displaced workers have only reached 721,023 workers out of a target two million displaced workers, and out of an estimated 23 million unemployed Filipinos nationwide.