[Press Release] PM slams PNP harassment of Cebu union, demands release of Toledo Four

PM slams PNP harassment of Cebu union, demands release of Toledo Four

pmLogo1The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed as harassment the early morning raid by the police of the office of the union of the giant mining company Carmen Copper in Toledo City, Cebu last March 22. The raid follows a similar raid on the house and resort the union treasurer last Tuesday in which four persons were arrested.

“With a month to go before Labor Day, the union repression in Cebu sadly highlights the state of workers rights in the Philippines. Truly the Philippines is the second most dangerous place for trade unionists in the whole world,” Renato Magtubo, PM national chair said.

PM is also demanding the release of the Toledo Four arrested in the Tuesday raid. The group is accusing the police of planting a 45 caliber pistol allegedly found in the union office this morning and other arms supposedly seized in the raid last Tuesday. The police raid of the residence of union treasurer Roldan Cansancio was supposedly due to his involvement in the killing of a ward leader of Sonny Osmena in Toledo last month.

“The police in collusion with certain elements in Carmen Copper management are trying to divert the real issue which is the brewing labor dispute. They are also trying to silence one of the very vocal critics of management’s contractualization scheme and unfair labor practices,” insisted Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.

Labor relations at Carmen Copper started to get strained late last year when management started to implement a contractualization scheme that affected regular jobs. The union Panaghugpong sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC) also became increasingly critical of the damaging impact to the environment of the company’s open pit mining. A full blown labor dispute erupted when it was discovered that management formed a company union in a bid to bust PAMCC.

“Elements of the PNP are being used by powerful interests in Carmen Copper to criminalize the labor row. They maliciously link Cansancio to the killing last month of a certain Rene Embranilag, who is not an employee of Carmen Copper nor related to the labor dispute, to justify the entry of PNP to the labor problem,” asserted Derige. Osmena himself attributed the killing of Embranilag as politically motivated and unrelated to the labor dispute.

Meanwhile PAMCC president Tony Cuizon condemned the raid and defended Cansancio. “This is unacceptable! The PNP Regional Intelligence Division has no business intervening in the labor dispute. They timed the raid when all of union officers, including Cansancio, are here in Manila attending an International Labor Organization seminar so that we cannot defend ourselves from their malicious attack. This is a cowardly act.”

Cuizon further added “They are trying to silence my long time partner in the union because he is my alter ego and very vocal against management abuses. They are trying to discredit his credibility by portraying him as underworld character when in fact he is active in fighting criminality in the province as a CIDG volunteer. Roldan could have turned his back on me when management people tried to convince him to capitulate but he did not and remained loyal to the union. This is the kind of men the union movement needs and I have high regard for him.”

Cansancio and PAMCC declared that they are readying their own charges against those responsible for the raid. PAMCC and PM also announced protests are to be held in the coming days. The groups are also alleging police brutality occurred as a 13-year old minor was pinned down the floor, an Armalite rifle was pointed at him and he suffered verbal abuses from the raiding team.

“We cannot take this sitting down. The raids have a chilling effect not on PAMCC but also to the labor movement in general. We call on the Department of Labor (DOLE) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to intervene and investigate this act by the police. Certainly, the PNP violated our human rights and rules on labor disputes,” Cuizon ended.

Press Release
March 22, 2013
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Dennis Derige @ 09166058407

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