[Urgent Appeal] Harassment of Protesting Workers of a Telecommunications Company -TFDP

Urgent Appeal
May 2, 2013

(PHILIPPINES) Harassment of Protesting Workers of a Telecommunications Company

ISSUES: Harassment and Intimidation; Unfair Labor Practice; Human Rights Defenders; Freedom of Expression and Right to Organize

Dear friends,

TFDP logo smallThe Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the harassment and intimidation against leaders and members of the Digitel Employees Union currently on labor strike, and is seeking your help to anticipate possible violence that may occur due to their continuous protest actions.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP at: 45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109; or call: +632 4378054, or visit http://digitelemployeesunion.wordpress.com/, for further details.
______________________________________________________________

Case Title: Harassment of Digitel Workers
Case: Harassment
Name of Victim: Digitel Employees Union headed by Mr. Alan Licardo — President
Date of Incident: April 27, 2013
Place of Incident: at the grounds of Ramon Cojuangco building (PLDT), Makati City
Alleged Perpetrators: Makati Commercial Estate Association (MACEA) personnel led by Mr. Eduardo Balagot
Motive: Alleged Obstruction produced by the camp-out/protest actions of workers

Account of the Incident:

Digitel Workers are being harassed by personnel ofthe Makati Commercial Estate Association (MACEA), during their picket protest and camp-out outside the Ramon Cojuangco building located within Legaspi and Salcedo Village.

On April 27, 2013 at 10:00am, police officer Dexter Castor along with two other police inspected the area where the picket line is installed by the Digitel Employees Union (DEU) along Makati Avenue. During that time, there were several union members undergoing hunger strike to express their grievances to the management of Digitel Telecommunications Philippines Inc. Moments later, two police patrol cars parked near the camp-out area. Later on the police left the place.

At 10:05am, personnel from the Makati Public Safety Authority (MAPSA) went to the site apparently checking the peace and order situation in the area. Since the workers were conducting the protest peacefully and orderly, they left the scene.

After twenty minutes, personnel from the Infra security agency came and presented a written order from MACEA. The directive stated that workers must remove their installed streamers and posters, and must immediately vacate the place. The order was relayed and presented by Mr. Eduardo Balagot, officer-in-charge of the MACEA. With him were five security personnel namely: 1) Agapito J.Z.; 2) Avina R.R.; 3) Novaza J.G.; 4) Lambayong R.G.; and, 5) name unidentified.

The workers negotiated with the said persons from 10:50am to 11:20am. During their dialogue workers told them not to remove their campaign materials and asserted their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

At this point a heated argument took place. The supposed negotiation became confrontational. Mr. Balagot told the workers that ‘if you want this to be forceful, then we will.’ The MACEA personnel started to remove the streamers and placards while some police seemingly acted only as onlookers. To avoid violence, the workers conceded and chose not to fight back against the MACEA personnel.

According to the workers, this is not the only encounter where they were harassed and intimidated. On April 21, 2013, at 3:00am, around 100 security personnel of the building pushed them away from their camp to the sidewalk.

The workers are currently confronting the latest move of Digitel for its supposed ‘permanent closure’, but allowing integration with Philippine Long Distance Telephone company (PLDT). On January 21, 2013, the Supreme Court already issued its decision with finality, that it has affirmed the directives of the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Labor Relations Commission as follows; 1) For Digitel to commence a collective bargaining with the DEU; 2) Reinstate affected workers with full back wages; 3)Pay each affected employees P10,000 moral damages and P5,000 exemplary damages for finding Digitel guilty of unfair labor practice such as: a) The closure of its affiliate Digiserve and replaced it with i-tech; b) dismissal of employees mostly union members and officers; and, c) in violation of the Assumption Jurisdiction order.

At present, Digitel Telecommunications Philippines Inc. made a manifestation before DOLE Secretary’s office that it will not negotiate as the court’s decision has already been superseded by supposed turn of events—closure and integration of operations to PLDT.

Suggested Action:

A. Call upon competent authorities to intervene, observe, uphold and carry out the earlier decision of the Supreme Court and DOLE in favor of the workers represented by the DEU;
B. Facilitate a dialogue between the Digitel management and the labor union to come up with an acceptable and justifiable resolution of the case;
C. To provide immediate protection of the DEU leaders and members against possible physical and emotional harm;
D. Guarantee the means for the victims to express and act freely in conformity with the bill of rights and freedoms stated in the Philippine Constitution;
E. 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
Malacanang 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. Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Building, Muralla Wing cor. General Luna St., Intramuros,
City of Manila, 1002
Philippines
Tel No: 527-3000 loc. 701, 703, 704, 706, 707
Fax No: 336-8182
Email: secrdb@dole.gov.ph

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

4. Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

5. Mr. David Balangue
President, Makati Commercial Estate Association (MACEA)
Legaspi Tower 100
Makati City
Philippines
Tel: 8103395

6. Bureau for Workers’ Activities
International Labor Organization (ILO)
Tel: +41 22 799 70 21
Fax: +41 22 799 65 70
Website: http://www.ilo.org/actrav
Email: actrav@ilo.org

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