[Urgent Action] (Philippines): Harassment, Intimidation and Arbitrary Arrest and Detention of Three Hanjin Workers

URGENT ACTION (Philippines): Harassment, Intimidation and Arbitrary Arrest and Detention of Three Hanjin Workers

Background Information
Case:                    Arrest and Detention / Harassment
Name of Victims:             Gilbert dela Peña, Renante Buccat, Benjamin Abenes, Jr.
Place of Incident:            Hanjin Shipyard, Subic Bay Freeport, Province of Zambales
Date of Incident:            May 17, 2011
Alleged Perpetrators:        Senior Managers of Hanjin led by Mr. Kim Yong and personnel of Hanjin Police Security (HPS), apparently in connivance with the local police

Summary of Incident

Three contractual employees of a South Korean shipbuilding company, Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction, were harassed, maltreated, arrested and detained by alleged members of the company’s police security.

Gilbert dela Peña, 27; Renante Buccat, 45; and, Benjamin Abenes, Jr., 27, were about to enter the company premises at around 7:30am on May 17, 2011 when the identification scanner installed in the Hanjin’s main entrance did not recognize their electronic identification cards. They were surprised that their IDs were already blocked. But since the security personnel assigned at the gate already knew them, the three were permitted to enter. Before they proceeded to work, Mr. Sunquil Park, manager of Binitica manpower recruiting agency who enlisted Dela Peña, Buccat and Abenes for employment, immediately called them to his office. Mr. Sunquil told them that they were already terminated from work due to a series of protest actions conducted by their group. He added that they were no longer allowed inside Hanjin.  The company charged the three with trespassing since they allegedly forced their way inside Hanjin compound. Mr. Sunquil was referring to the peaceful assembly of the association of Hanjin workers during break time.  The three were members of the association.

Dela Peña, Buccat and Abenes asked Mr. Sunquil to explain the grounds for their termination and the supposed trespassing case filed against them. The three said they were not aware of any termination order, hence they reported back to their work assignments.  In fact, their immediate superiors were expecting them to report for work.  Dela Peña, Buccat and Abenes also stressed that the Hanjin Police Security (HPS) allowed them to enter and they did not force their way in, as alleged by Mr. Sunquil.

Mr. Sunquil endorsed their concerns to Mr. Kim Yong who was then at the information office of Hanjin. During the discussion, Mr. Kim told Dela Peña, Buccat and Abenes that the company already decided to terminate their service. He added that if they want to complain, they should file a case at the labor office. While explaining their side, Buccat and Abenes were forcibly pulled and subdued by around ten (10) members of the HPS and hauled separately into two mobile vehicles, upon instructions from Mr. Kim. The two were brought to the Subic police station for blotter. The convoy was accompanied by two (2) fully armed members of the Special Action Force (SAF) from the local Philippine National Police (PNP) office. According to them, the police charged them with trespassing. Buccat suffered swelling of left cheek and bruise on his left leg during the scuffle. The police allowed them to leave the police station at 4:00 pm.

On the other hand, Dela Peña was brought and held inside the information office. He pleaded to Mr. Kim and two other managers, including Mr. Jun Jing Yong. Hanjin officials eventually let him go.

Incident prior to the arrest

On May 16, a day before the arrest, Buccat and Abenes were held by the HPS inside their so-called “interrogation room”. A certain “Galam” and “Batiquin” accused them of extorting money from their co-workers.  The said HPS members forced Buccat to admit that some of the money they apparently borrowed from their colleagues was monthly dues to support their illegal activities. They even confronted Buccat and accused him of being a “taong labas”, or affiliated with the armed rebel group.

Other Violations

According to the members of the “Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard (SAMAHAN)” or Association of Hanjin Workers (AHW), their plight started when the management denied them of their rights. According to SAMAHAN’s records, there were already 32 workers who died in work-related accidents. They added that many workers also obtained injuries and illnesses. SAMAHAN claimed that all of these happened while performing their duties inside the Hanjin shipyard. Until now, the Hanjin management has yet to comply with necessary occupational health and safety measures based on given standards.

SAMAHAN also said that more than 60 workers, most of whom were union officers or active union members, have been terminated under the pretext of health and safety violations. Several company policies were used to suppress the workers’ right to self organization.  Blame was always put on the workers.

SAMAHAN also asserted that they experienced maltreatment from their Korean counterparts.   Filipino workers were slapped, knocked on their heads or hard hats, kicked and abused verbally.
There was a reported incident that two Korean foremen hit some Filipino Hanjin workers’ heads and slapped another with rubber gloves.

Please write the authorities in the Philippines and urge them to:
1.    Call upon competent government agencies to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the harassment, intimidation, maltreatment and arbitrary arrest of Gilbert dela Peña, Renante Buccat, and Benjamin Abenes, Jr., and other Hanjin workers who suffered similar fate, and ensure that adequate, effective and prompt reparation, is granted to the victims and their families;
2.    Conduct an investigation for the alleged maltreatment and humiliation of workers by senior managers of Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction;
3.    Strictly observe the Presidential Decree No. 442 also known as The Labor Code of the Philippines, particularly on provisions relating to conditions of employment; health safety and social welfare; labor relations, specifically the workers’ right to trade union and the right to peaceful assembly and non-violent protest actions;
4.    Act on the side of workers on the Hanjin management’s violations of existing laws;
5.    (For the Bureau of Labor Relations of the Department of Labor and Employment)  Immediately decide on the pending application of Hanjin workers union allowing and certifying its establishment;
6.    Prohibit local authorities and the police to subscribe and intervene on behalf of Hanjin management against grieving workers;
7.    Observe and recognize the rights of workers to act freely in conformity with the Bill of Rights stated in the Philippine Constitution;
8.    Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

Please send your letters to:

1.His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President, Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel Street , San Miguel, Manila, 1005 Philippines
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: corres@op.gov.ph /opnet@ops.gov.ph

2.Hon. Leila M. De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Philippines
Fax: +63 2 523 9548
Tel: + 63 2 521 1908
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / doj.delima@gmail.com

3.Hon. Rosalinda D. Baldoz
Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
7th Floor, DOLE Building, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Philippines
Fax No: +63 2 527 3494
Tel: +63 2 908 2917 loc. 701, 703, 704, 706, 707
Email: secrdb@dole.gov.ph

4.Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City, 1104 Philippines
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

5.Director General Raul M. Bacalzo
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame, Quezon City 1100 Philippines
Tel: +63 2 722 0802 / +63 2721 6620
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

6.Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva
47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 716 19 32

Documented by:

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City
Philippines 1109
Tel: +63 2 437 8054 / +63 2 995 0246
Fax: +63 2 911 3643
Email: tfdp1974@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.tfdp.net

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