Maragusan workers cry foul on continuing harassments

Jun. 11, 2012

Media Release
4 June 2012

Maragusan workers cry foul on continuing harassments

Maragusan, Compostela Valley — Workers in banana plantation of Dole Stanfilco claimed harassment anew in the midst of exercising their right to organize and be certified as exclusive bargaining representative of the workers.

It was learned that there were two unions in the company vying for the certification election this June 7, 2012, the Dole Stanfilco Maragusan Labor Union under the Federation of Integrated Labor Unions (DSMLU-Filu) and the Maragusan Dole Stanfilco Workers Union of the militant federation National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (MDSWU-Naflu-KMU).

Certification Election is a process wherein workers of a certain company will choose whose union they want to represent them to collectively bargain for their wages and benefits with the company.

Artemio Robilla, Chairperson of MDSWU-Naflu-KMU claimed that for the past weeks, elements under the 66th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army led by certain 1Lt. Blancober Lopez gathered the Purok Leaders of different barangays of Maragusan and pushed them to actively campaign for DSMLU-Filu.  Soldiers were demonizing the MDSWU-Naflu-KMU by charging it as a ‘communist front.’  Robilla also revealed that in their workplace, the company actively campaigned for DSMLU-Filu and posits that if ever the MDSWU-Naflu-KMU will win the election, the company will become bankrupt and eventually close down.

Romualdo Basilio, Regional Secretary General of KMU denounced the collusion of Dole Stanfilco and the 66th IB.  He scored the company’s interference on workers’ activity and charged the management of committing Unfair Labor Practice.  He also expressed apprehension on the outcome of the coming election.

“We challenge the government agencies, especially the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to act immediately on these violations perpetrated by the company and the elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).  This is a clear deviation of the AFP’s commitment on Manifesto of Commitment by the DoLE, labor sector and the AFP towards a joint and collective effort to promote and protect worker’s rights that was inked last July 21, 2011 by leaders of government agencies, labor sector and AFP at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City,” Basilio added.

Meanwhile, on June 3, the pro-worker non-government organization Nonoy Librado Development Foundation Inc. sponsored a medical mission at the Barangay Hall of Poblacion Maragusan to deliver medical services for the community.  To their surprise, about 200 individuals led by the same elements of 66th IB, some barangay leaders, Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) and Civilian Auxiliary Army (CAA) gathered in front of the medical service and staged a rally.  They denounced the militant organizations including KMU.  Some of their placards bear the call, “Ibagsak ang KMU!”

“This only show that the AFP is violating its own rules and is not true to its words with regard to respecting human rights,” Basilio said referring to provisions of Paragraph 4.6, particularly Section and Section, of the AFP Rules of Engagement for the Implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.

Section – The AFP support to law enforcement agencies, such as the PNP and other law enforcement agencies, shall be limited only in providing assistance in the maintenance of peace and order and enforcement of laws, and in the administration of justice only when duly deputized by appropriate authorities.

Section – Deployment of military personnel, including CAAs and SCAAs, to address labor-related mass actions and disputes is strictly prohibited.

“No wonder the Human Rights Watch said the Aquino administration has failed to curb rights abuses in the Philippines.  It only proves that Oplan Bayanihan is no less than a sugar-coated bullet,” Basilio ended.

For reference:
Romualdo Basilio
KMU Regional Secretary-General

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