DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Labor unions has condemned as “brazen acts” of the government military which they disclosed as having issued threats anew against union members.
In a press conference on Wednesday here at Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) office, the labor center backed the claim of member trade unions that their leaders and fellow unionists were allegedly “harassed, threatened and red-tagged by elements of the fascist military.”
Carlo Olalo, secretary general of KMU-SMR, said that for example, at around 1 pm on January 29, militiamen identified with the 66th and 25th Infantry Battalions “gathered the residents Sitio Pogi” in Barangay San Miguel, Compostela, Compostella Valley.
”The soldiers then announced before the residents that they are just after the order of the President Duterte to take down the leaders of the legal fronts of the CPP-NPAs,” Olalo said.
In that village meeting, “the military presented a list of names as allegedly linked with NPA (New Peoples Army) activities particularly union leaders, Roland Cobrado, Perlita Millallos and Elmer Atamosa,” said Melodina Gumanoy, the chair of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Osmeña ug San Migue (NAMAOS).
Gumanoy said the AFP personnel demanded the said leaders or members to surrender before the authorities within three days or they will be arrested or killed.
“Why should we surrender? We are not NPAs. Do you consider us workers, NPA? When we are just demanding legitimate calls on wage and regularization?” she asked.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Parungao, the commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB), denied the said allegation in an interview with Davao Today on Wednesday afternoon.
“We do not have information about it. We had a meeting with the residents but that was to inform them of the possible encounters to happen as they are situated near an identified counter site, at Bantakan, a boundary of San Miguel,” said Parungao.
At present, Olalo told reporters that the KMU together with other labor units are now forming into fact-finding teams to gather data based on resident’s accounts and collects other evidences on the said incident. He said that the documentation process would form part of their legal efforts as they strengthen the claim against the AFP.
Since 1990’s, Gumanoy, together with Cobrado, Millalos and Atamosa were among the farmworkers at banana plantations, Shinsun Tropical Fruits Corporation formerly Freshmax Corp., and Sumifru Philippines Corp. in Compostella Valley.
“Through unions, we were able to achieve some of our demands. Most of us now are regulars and paid accordingly at minimum wage,” said the head of NAMASUFA, Paul John Dizon.
That is why, Dizon added, it is unfair to say that we are labeled “terrorists” by the state security forces when we are only fighting for our rights to form assemblies and unions and push for policy change for just labor conditions.
“The Duterte Regime and its implementor AFP, only that they are the real terrorist here as our fellow men, may it be a worker, farmer or a Lumad has been experiencing grave exploitation and direct harassment through its anti-poor policies like TRAIN, red-tagging, and killing of progressive group members and leaders especially now with martial law extension in Mindanao” concluded Olalo. (davaotoday.com)