The recent string of harassment and attacks are meant to “silence workers in the lead up to Labor Day.”
By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – Labor unions in the Southern Tagalog region’s industrial zones are being threatened by state forces, according to reports from progressive labor centers.
Labor alliance Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA) reported at least four incidents of unions and unionists being harassed over the past week.
On April 23, police officers entered the premises of automotive parts company Daiwa Seiko in Biñan, Laguna in an attempt to conduct a “seminar.” Union officers boycotted the seminar despite being specifically invited to the seminar.
Former Coca-Cola union members turned state informants Rey Medellin and Raffy Baylosis were also spotted alongside the police officers. Last year, Medellin and Baylosis were involved in incidents of harassment against workers from Coca-Cola Santa Rosa, including an incident wherein 16 Coca-Cola workers were presented as “surrendered” New People’s Army combatants.
Baylosis himself was identified as one of the “surrenderees.”
On April 25, union officers from manufacturing company Sun Logistics, Inc. were visited by police officers to “urge” them to disaffiliate their union from the labor federation Organized Labor Associations in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA-KMU). According to the police, the unionists will be “arrested like Nedo” should they fail to comply.
Arnedo “Nedo” Lagunias was an officer in Honda Cars and a current officer of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN). On March 4, police officers conducted a raid in his home and charged him with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. He is currently detained in Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba.
On April 28, two union officers from food manufacturing company Clarmil Manufactiuring Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna received “invitations” from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command (AFP SOLCOM) for an “information forum.” The invitation comes after 12 union members were illegally laid-off eight days prior.
That same day, police officers blocked workers in Fuji Electric Philippines in Calamba from leaving the premises on account of “investigating” the murder of Lakas ng Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Fuji Electric Philippines union president Dandy Miguel last March 28.
Miguel was shot eight times on his way home. Apart from being union president, Miguel was also the Vice President of regional labor center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU).
According to the group, the recent string of harassment and attacks are meant to “silence workers in the lead up to Labor Day.”
“It is obvious that the state doesn’t want the working class to take to the streets and call for fair wages, rights, and justice,” ALMAPILA said in a statement, “which is why it is conspiring with the capitalists and ramping up their intimidation tactics.”
The group added that the attacks against workers intensified at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which now clocks at over 989,000 cases and 16,000 deaths. Reports from PAMANTIK-KMU and OLALIA-KMU corroborate this assertion.
Incidents of harassment increased after the Bloody Sunday massacre. According to PAMANTIK-KMU, police and military agents intensified their harassment operations against unionists and union officers in the days following the March 7 raids which resulted in the deaths of nine activists and arrest of six others.
These include requests from the police to identify union members, labeling labor organizations like Kilusang Mayo Uno as ‘communist fronts’, and outright surveillance and harassment.
The threats last March culminated in the murder of Miguel and the subsequent raid at the former office of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Engklabo, which the police propped up as an “arms depot.” ALMAPILA is wary that another “Bloody Sunday” is in the works.
However, despite the threats, the group is determined to commemorate Labor Day by “fighting for social rights, justice, and an end to injustice.”
“The working class cannot be silenced by petty threats from insecure dictators,” the group declared. “Each threat only proves that we must continue to struggle.”