As part of an internationally-coordinated protest calling for the freedom for detained labor rights advocates in the Philippines, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with other progressive organizations, picketed the Justice Department along Padre Faura in Manila this morning.
The labor group called for the immediate junking of trumped-up charges that were filed against Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Sharon Cabusao, Isidro de Lima, Renante Gamara, Ernesto Lorenzo, Randy Vegas, Raul Camposano, Rene Boy Abiva and Virgilio Corpuz.
KMU said the said labor rights defenders were all unarmed and were not committing any crime when they were arrested, were slapped with trumped-up charges in relation to attacks carried out by rebel group New People’s Army and in which only military agents are serving as witnesses, and are being prevented from performing their tasks in the labor movement.
“These labor rights defenders do not deserve to stay in jail any minute longer. Their illegal detention is most unjust and is part of the government’s campaign to weaken the trade-union movement and the people’s movement in the country,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor leader said most of the labor activists didn’t know that they were facing trumped-up charges at the time of their arrest, were arrested at home or on their way to their offices or their homes, and are in sensitive medical conditions.
KMU has called for a Global Day of Action for the labor activists and appealed to workers’ and pro-worker organizations around the world to write letters to Pres. Noynoy Aquino, Justice Secretary Alfredo Caguioa, among others to demand the freedom for the labor rights defenders.
“We are appealing to our comrades in the international labor movement to look into the Aquino government’s campaign of trade-union repression. We are calling on them to condemn the illegal arrest and detention of labor activists on the basis of trumped-up charges,” Labog added.
Labog also said the illegal detention of the labor rights defenders is part of the Aquino government’s trade-union repression drive, which include the massive retrenchment of workers who try to form unions, and has resulted in the decrease in the number of unionized workers and workers enjoying Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Reference: Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597