Suppression of workers’ rights feared as Congress extends ML in Mindanao

Jul. 23, 2017

DISMAYED. Roy Jim Bulanghig (left), president of Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corp. labor union and Jing Puerin (right), the union’s secretary criticize the extension of martial law in Mindanao and express dismay to Mindanao lawmakers who supported the measure on Saturday, July 22. Shin Sun union officers and members join the ongoing “Kampuhan” of workers at the historic Mendiola Bridge in Manila. (Alex D. Lopez/

MANILA, Philippines – Labor leaders from various places in the country expressed fear and concern over more cases of suppression of their rights as lawmakers on Saturday voted 461 to 18 the extension of the imposition of Martial Law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

Workers from the areas of Southern Mindanao Region, Southern Tagalog, National Capital Region and the CARAGA Region (Region XII) converge for more than a week now at the historic Mendiola Bridge here for a “Kampuhan” prior to the second State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The workers also joined the protest rally at the front gate of the House of Representatives on Saturday to call on the country’s lawmakers to stop the Martial Law implementation in Mindanao.

But their call fell on deaf ears as only 18 lawmakers, including the Makabayan bloc, voted against the proposal of President Duterte to extend Martial Law.

“This will bring more hardships for us, especially in our workplaces,” said Roy Jim Bulanghig, president of the workers’ union at Shin Sun Tropical Fruits Corp. in Compostela Valley.

Bulanghig and other members of the union from southern Mindanao are among the more than 300 workers joining the ongoing “Kapmpuhan” here.

He also expressed dismay to Mindanao lawmakers who voted for the extension of Martial Law, saying that they are not mindful of its ill-effects to the workers, peasants and other sectors of the society in Mindanao.

“The implementation of Martial Law in the last 60 days hit the workers in Compostela Valley,” he said, as he narrated their experiences when government forces broke into their picket line.

They were dismissed by Shin Sun management from their work since March of this year.

“One day after Martial Law was declared by President Duterte, soldiers from 66th Infantry Battalion occupied the plant of Shin Sun upon orders from higher authorities,” Bulanghig said.

Jing Puerin, the secretary of the same union also supported Bulanghig’s concerns and criticized the lawmakers of extending the imposition of Martial Law.

“We were harassed under Martial Law. Now that it is extended, more harassment will be experienced by workers in their workplaces,” Puerin said.

The lawmakers, he added, should have considered the situation of ordinary people, the workers, and the peasants, before deciding on martial law extension.

Puerin also narrated the harassment they experienced during their picket at Shin Sun where 15 of their members were picked up by government forces and were charged with trumped-up cases.

With the Martial Law in place until the end of this year, suppression of the rights of union leaders and members will continue, he added.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno on Saturday condemned Congress for extending its implementation.

“The overwhelming vote for its extension is baseless and is purely a showcase of political patronage. There can be no legal nor moral basis to extend Duterte’s destruction of people’s lives and livelihood, curtailment of democratic rights and suppression of the people’s legitimate demands and struggles,” KMU said.

It said that Martial Law will further sow state-terrorism in the form of bombardment of civilian communities, forced evacuation of hundreds of thousands, dispersal of legitimate workers’ strikes, and gross atrocities and human rights violations.

“The Congress’ vote to extend Duterte’s Martial Law would pave the way to the establishment of a US-backed authoritarian state administered by fascists, warmongers, peace saboteurs and human rights violators,” the group added.

Despite its extension, KMU said the determination of Filipino workers to resist Duterte’s looming authoritarian rule and assert their legitimate demands for a genuine national democratic change. (

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