[Urgent Appeal] False charges were filed against two (2) labour leaders after they held a picket protest condemning the unfair labor practices of a supposed workers’ cooperative.

URGENT APPEAL

August 27, 2014

(PHILIPPINES) False charges were filed against two (2) labour leaders after they held a picket protest condemning the unfair labor practices of a supposed workers’ cooperative.

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the harassment done by officers of a cooperative/recruitment agency by filing false charges against human rights defenders from the workers sector, and the anti labour practices done to their workers.

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; email: tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com and tfdp.1974@gmail.com; or call: +632 4378054.

TFDP logo2b
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Case Title: Bacalso & Fortaleza Harassment
Case: Harassment by filling charges such as Libel, Illegal Assembly, and Alarm and Scandal
Name of Victims: 1) Edcil Bacalso; 2) Wilson Fortaleza
Date of Incident: Picket Rally held on April 25, 2014; Case filed on July 11, 2014
Place of Incident: Picket Rally held at Asia Pro Asiapro Bldg, Pasig City
Alleged Perpetrators: Edeward C. Miano, Rico T. Peralta, and Lailani R. Encarnacion, all personnel of the AsiaPro Manpower Cooperative
Motive: To suppress the rights of workers groups to organize labour unions / Harassment against labour leaders

Account of the Incident:

Edcil Bacalso of NAGKAISA, a coalition of labour groups and Wilson Fortaleza of Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers Party), were both charged with libel, illegal assembly, and alarm and scandal, by officials of the AsiaPro Cooperative. The charges were filed at the Office of the Prosecutor in Pasig City.

Based on his complaint affidavit, Mr. Edeward C. Milano, Head of the Business Unit for Luzon of AsiaPro Multipurpose Cooperative accused Bacalso and Fortaleza of distributing libelous materials to the public allegedly containing malicious and defamatory statements. Also, Milano blamed the group of obstructing the flow of traffic and blocking the pedestrians due to Nagkaisa’s activity. Further, Milano stated that the public affairs were disturbed due to the loud speaker system used in the protest.

On April 25, 2014, at 9:30am in San Rafael Street, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City, Nagkaisa led a peaceful rally outside the building, where the AsiaPro central office is located. The activity was attended by around 200 participants coming from various labor groups including the Partido ng Manggagawa, Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), SENTRO, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA). Equipped with sound system, flags, streamers, banners, and position papers, the demonstrators criticize AsiaPro for their anti-labour union activities.

According to Bacalso, the charges filed against them are mere harassment. It clearly shows that AsiaPro will do anything to conceal their non-compliance to labor standards and to impede efforts in advancing the rights and welfare of its workers, Bacalso added. He claimed that AsiaPro is actually a manpower agency that hides under the guise of a cooperative.

Based on Nagkaisa’s statement, AsiaPro is a supplier of contractual workers of several large corporations and consequently as a violator of labor rights of its members and employees due to their non-payment of wages and other mandatory benefits such as the Social Security System.

Furthermore, AsiaPro invokes its cooperative nature to evade compliance to labor laws. And besides, its executives already made this admission during public hearings conducted by the Provincial Board of Bukidnon in 2010 and in its many pleadings before the courts. Asiapro is Bukidnon’s biggest contractual labor supplier, with 5,000 of its workers deployed in the province’s banana and pineapple plantations.

Finally, Bacalso said that AsiaPro is already resorting to the filing of trump up charges, and they are now trying to coerce and intimidate their group to weaken their campaign against exploitation of workers.

Additional Information:

In March 2014, AsiaPro was able to discontinue, through a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) a labour union certification election in Galeo Equipment and Mining Company, a contractor that hauls mine waste from the open pit mining site at the Carmen Copper mine in Toledo City.

A total of 285 Galeo workers had already voted by the time when the balloting was stopped. Another 275 Galeo workers were unable to cast ballots and were disenfranchised due to the TRO.

The election standoff arose from an attempt by the AsiaPro manpower cooperative to prevent the unionization efforts at Galeo. Asiapro is claiming that the Galeo workers are their members and thus exempt from unionization. Galeo workers did not even know that they were members of Asiapro.

AsiaPro apparently is the first and biggest manpower cooperative in the country, with 34,000 of its members, deployed to several dozen companies nationwide.

The Supreme Court already ruled that AsiaPro must comply with core labor standards and other labor-related laws (G.R. No. 172101).
Nagkaisa had been pushing for the passage of the security of tenure bill in Congress to deter the plague of contractualization in the country.

Sample letter:

Dear___________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding harassment done by senior officers of AsiaPro Manpower Cooperative—a recruitment agency, by filing false charges against human rights defenders from the workers sector, and the anti labour practices done to their workers. Edcil Bacalso of NAGKAISA, a coalition of labour groups and Wilson Fortaleza of Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers Party), were both charged with libel, illegal assembly, and alarm and scandal, by officials of the AsiaPro Cooperative. The charges were filed at the Office of the Prosecutor in Pasig City.

I have also learned that the charges filed against them are mere harassment. Based on reports AsiaPro will do anything to conceal their non-compliance to labor standards and to impede efforts in advancing the rights and welfare of its workers.

It was also brought to our attention that AsiaPro is actually a manpower agency that hides under the guise of a cooperative to avoid tax obligations required by, law and to receive benefits as a cooperative.

From what I have learned, AsiaPro is a supplier of contractual workers of several large corporations and consequently as a violator of labor rights of its members and employees due to their non-payment of wages and other mandatory benefits such as the Social Security System.

Furthermore, AsiaPro is already resorting to the filing of trump up charges, and they are now trying to coerce and intimidate their group to weaken their campaign against exploitation of workers.

We now urge you to call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation or inquiry into these events, and ensure that adequate, effective and prompt action is granted favorably to the workers including Edcil Bacalso of NAGKAISA, a coalition of labour groups and Wilson Fortaleza of Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers Party).

Lastly, we hope that the government will continue to guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution and international human rights standards, and to subject violators for appropriate penalties punishment under Philippine Laws.

I look forward to your urgent action in this case.
Yours sincerely,

Please send your letters to:

1. Hon. 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@op.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. 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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