DAVAO CITY , Philippines — The recent killing of a banana plantation worker in Compostela Valley province carried out by an unknown assailant could be viewed as a direct assault to workers’ trade union rights, a human rights group said.
Last October 31, Danny Boy Bautista was shot by unidentified gunman at around 6:00 p.m in Compostela town, Compostela Valley province. His body sustained four gun shots which resulted to his untimely death, according to Ryan Amper, spokesperson for the human rights group Barug Katungod Mindanao (Barug).
“The assault on trade union rights is part of the package prepared by Duterte to completely suppress political dissent as the regime is growing more isolated because of its failure to address rising inflation, imposition of more tax burdens, and its self-exposure as facilitator of drug smuggling in the country,” Amper said, adding that they condemned Bautista’s killing.
The 31 year-old Bautista was employed in Sumifru Philippines Packing Plant 340 as harvester for five years. Bautista was an active member of Namasufa and he served as the group’s marshal since the strike began last month.
The packing plant 340 was one of the packing plants whose workers went on strike against the company after its workers’ union, the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA), failed to enter a new bargaining agreement with Sumifru.
Bautista’s death comes as another brutal attack against civilians following the violent dispersal of striking NAMASUFA members last October 18. The dispersal team was composed of the Armed Forces of the Philppines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and representatives from the Local Government Unit of Compostela.
“This manifests yet once again the state of impunity engendered by Martial Law in Mindanao. The killing of Bautista is a translation of the caustic rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte to kill and eliminate trade unions especially those under the Kilusang Mayo Uno,” Amper said.
Amper believed that Bautista’s killing was part of the AFP’s implementation of “Oplan Kapayapaan,” the Duterte administration’s security program that justifies what he called an attack and political crackdown on activists, labor and sectoral leaders across the country.
“Part of this fascism package is its filing of trumped-up criminal cases like murder, frustrated murder, kidnapping, arson and the like against 686 civilians all over Mindanao. It has also paraded around 1,000 civilian victims of fake and forced surrenders,” he said.
But Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, speaking for the EastMinCom, denied AFP’s involvement in Bautista’s killing, urging Barug Katungod Mindanao to prove their allegation in court.
“We condole with the family, and we want justice to be served for his death. It is always easy for this group [Barug Katungod Mindanao] to point to the military as the perpetrator. We challenge them to prove in court their allegation and not just accusing without any basis,” Balagtey said.
Meanwhile, the group said that in Southern Mindanao alone, there were 89 victims of political killings, 58 of which, including Bautista, occurred under Martial Law. Bautista is the 154th victim of political killing in Mindanao since Duterte took office.
“The continued implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao and its looming extension as recommended by the Executive Committee of the National Security Council convened by Duterte in Cebu last week, will be adding salt to the wounds of the victims,” Amper said.(davaotoday.com)