Group slams harrassment of union leader in Tan-owned company

LABOR center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the military’s harassment of a union president in a company owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan, saying the Aquino government continues to collude with big businesses in violating workers’ rights.

Last Dec. 28, two men in plainclothes, one of whom introduced himself as Samuel Pineda of the Philippine Army assigned in Fort Santiago, arrived in the house of Rico Pepito, president of the workers’ union in Foremost Farms, Inc., and asked his wife about his whereabouts.

On Dec. 29, the two men returned, riding a motorcycle with the plate number WI-6015, and asked Pepito if he is connected with a person named “Jonas” who, the two men claimed, has been asking the company for “revolutionary taxes.”

The men asked about the activities of the union’s leaders and said “You are asking too much from the company” and “Huwag lang naming malalaman na may kaugnayan kayo sa sinasabi naming tao (We hope we don’t find out that you are connected with the person we are talking about).”

Workers of Foremost, a hog raiser and feeds manufacturer, filed an appeal against the exemption granted to the company from the coverage of the P30 Emergency Cost of Living Allowance approved by the wage board. They have also been fighting for various benefits promised and then denied by the company.

“The Aquino government continues to collude with big capitalists and use the military to violate workers’ rights. It is harassing workers’ leaders and violating workers’ rights to defend capitalists’ profits,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“The Arroyo-era tactic of linking unionists with alleged activities of the NPA (New People’s Army) is alive and well under the Aquino government. Workers’ leaders are still being harassed on the basis of alleged activities of another entity,” he added.

“We demand an end to the harassment against Pepito and Foremost workers. Instead of heeding workers’ just demands, Tan is using the military to harass workers in an attempt to cow them into submission,” he said.

KMU said three of leaders are facing warrants of arrest on the basis of trumped-up charges in relation to activities of the New People’s Army.

Arrest warrants have been issued this year against Ronald Ian Evidente, KMU-Negros spokesperson, Roy Velez, KMU-NCR chairperson, and Amelita Gamara, KMU-NCR deputy secretary-general on the basis of false charges related to activities of the NPA.

An arrest warrant against Hermenegildo Marasigan, KMU-Southern Tagalog chairperson, was also issued in relation to an alleged scuffle resulting from an anti-militarization protest.

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