Labor group decries ‘strafing’ of workers camp in Pantukan

Apr. 06, 2016

Photo of the workers protest camp in Compostela Valley Province. (Contributed photo)

TAGUM CITY –Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao decried the strafing of a worker’s camp last Saturday, April 2 in Pantukan, Compostela Valley province.

In a statement on Wednesday, KMU said that at around 12:05 am, unidentified gunmen opened fire the camp set-up by the agricultural workers.

The strafing incident nearly killed three trade unionists who manned the camp.  Eight .45 caliber empty shell casings were recovered after the incident, the group said. Aside from the strafing incident, KMU said that there was also an attempted arson reported on March 15.

This prompted Carlo Olalo, secretary general of KMU Southern Mindanao, to call on the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to intervene in order to preempt any untoward incident as workers are planning to hold a strike after 52 banana workers were sacked illegally following their refusal to sign new contracts with the company.

“The union is fighting for the reinstatement of the 52 workers. After failed mediations, the union Musahamat (Farm 2) Workers Labor Union-NAFLU-KMU has filed a notice of strike (NOS) and delivered an overwhelming ‘yes’ to strike vote last March 28,” Olalo said.

He also blasted DOLE’s inaction and questioned the agency’s commitment to protect the rights of workers to organize and freedom of association.

“The DOLE is sleeping on the case of Musahamat workers and it can no longer pretend that nothing is happening. During the certification election, the union was victim of vilification and military intervention and the DOLE did nothing. By being silent, it is being complicit in the apparent campaign to silence the workers in Pantukan by any means possible, including murder,” Olalo pointed out.

KMU hit both the Musahamat Farm 2 and the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for “continuing its vilification campaign against KMU and its affiliate union in the area.”

“We denounce this attempted murder of trade unionists barely a month before Labor Day. The strafing incident happened early dawn shortly after the dreaded Kidapawan massacre was carried out by government forces. This incident highlights the intensifying attacks on workers and the people under a heavily militarized US-Aquino regime,” the labor group said. (

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