Southern Tagalog workers protest political persecution
The Canadian media has reported on the massive increase of Filipino migrant workers into Canada. The human rights situation in that country reveals the underlying reasons why so many are looking to leave.
On February 5, Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr., the chief counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno [KMU (May First Movement)] — the progressive alliance of trade unions in the Philippines — and member of Pro Labor Assistance Center (PLACE), Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) was released from prison. He was joined by five leaders from popular organizations in the Southern Tagalog region east and south of Manila. All six had been detained for three months.
These arrests and detentions seem to be tests by the Philippine state of new tactics against the legal popular movement. For the last eight years, the Philippine state has mainly relied on killing then disappearing leaders of legal popular organizations. They were, to put it bluntly, trying to destroy the legal popular movement by cutting of its head! But as the killings and disappearances have brought international condemnation and increased local sympathy for the legal popular movement in their wake, they have now had to try new tactics for decapitating said movement. Prolonged litigation to paralyze popular leaders is just this new tactic.
The Southern Tagalog region seems to have been chosen as the test ground and the test targets the leaders of progressive unions, labour organizations and institutes, and progressive party list groups. It was the area most hit by the political killings and disappearances targeting unarmed popular leaders. This region has been fertile ground for the organizing and mobilizing efforts of the popular movement.
The first one arrested was Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. On Oct. 23, elements of Philippine National Police of Rizal province mobile group and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) picked him up in his residence-cum-office at Antipolo City, just east of Manila. Nestor San Jose, PISTON-Rizal coordinator, was next on Oct. 24; Crispin Zapanta, Bayan Muna-Southern Tagalog officer, Oct. 27; Rogelio Galit, Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka) spokesperson and bedridden due to diabetes, Nov. 4; Arnaldo Seminiano, Ilaw-Buklod ng Manggagawa-KMU (IBM-KMU) organizer, Nov. 6; and Emmanuel Dionida, Labor Education Advocacy Development Response Services (LEADER) executive director, Nov. 13.
As it turned out, the legal basis for these arrests and detention had a highly irregular history.
A complaint was originally filed at the office of the Batangas Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on Aug. 12, 2008 by a certain Marlo Timbreza on behalf of Globe Telecom Inc. regarding the bombing and burning of a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas last August 2.
This complaint named Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. and 18 other prominent activist-leaders such as Bayani Cambronero, 8th party list nominee and Southern Tagalog regional coordinator of Bayan Muna; Rolando Mingo, Vice President of the nationwide transport group PISTON, and president of the Southern Tagalog Region Transport Sector Organization; Agaton Bautista, Anakpawis mouse that roared the divx download
, Batangas provincial coordinator; Noriel Rocafort, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) - Batangas secretary general; Isabelo Alicaya, Chairperson of the Fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA-Southern Tagalog and the Haligi ng mga Batangueñong Anak Dagat (Habagat). Also contained was Romy Aguilar of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Rizal and who is wheelchair-bound due to diabetes.
On September 5, 2008, the original complaint was amended to include 8 of the 9 grassroots activists who had been abducted and tortured by elements of the Calabarzon Philippine National Police’s Regional...