On the first month of Sta. Cruz 5’s illegal arrest and detention,
Labor rights NGO hits Duterte over surging cases of trump-up charges vs activists, human rights defenders
Labor rights organization Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) calls for their immediate release and the junking of trumped-up charges filed against Sta Cruz 5: Adelberto Silva, labor organizer Ireneo Atadero, organic farmer Ediecel Legaspi, women’s group consultant Hedda De Luna Calderon and their hired driver Julio Lusania illegally arrested in Sta Cruz, Laguna and detained a month ago.
“The continuing detention of the Sta. Cruz 5 is a part of Duterte’s grand plan to justify its unsuccessful ‘Red October’ scare and intensified political persecution. It underscores that arresting and detaining Silva, Atadero and other labor leaders and organizers cannot resolve the growing labor unrest fueled by no less than Duterte himself and his empty promise of ending contractualization. His (Duterte) utter failure to bring genuine change to the workers and nation is igniting increased dissatisfaction”, CTUHR says in a statement.
On October 15, mid-afternoon, exactly a month ago, the five, collectively known as Sta. Cruz 5, were blocked by combined forces of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), while on their way to a consultation on prospects of the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). Reports noted that the five were held at gunpoint, handcuffed and were made to lie on their stomach on a burning asphalt road for an hour while the police and military were busy doing what they are good at – planting evidence.
The five were later charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and on court order were transferred to Metro Manila District Jail Annex 4 inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig last October 30. However, the Sta. Cruz RTC in Laguna has yet to rule on the Motion to Suppress Evidence filed by their lawyers.
Silva and Atadero come from the trade union movement. ‘Ka Adel’, as most workers and colleagues in the trade union movement call him has been a long-time organizer and advocate for trade union and human rights. He contributed in crafting the draft CASER particularly on the question of National Industrialization and Economic Development. His comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the plight of the working class gained from decades of living and fighting alongside the workers inspired to continue serving the workers.
Atadero, on the other hand, is currently with Kilusang Mayo Uno. As a former seaman, Atadero, witnessing the condition of port workers, he was prompted to organize fellow workers in the port area. Later on, he helped in organizing workers under Ilaw Buklod Manggagawa (IBM), a national federation of workers in San Miguel Corp. affiliated with KMU.
The labor rights NGO also hit the rising trend of illegal arrest of activists and organizers based on trumped-up charges. At work, companies and corporations are also finding their way to file fabricated criminal offenses against union leaders and organizers bolstering government efforts to crackdown on activists. These combined attacks only expose the Duterte government, in cahoots with corporations, desperation to silence critics, divert the public attention and blame the human rights and labour rights defenders on his utter failure to curb deepening poverty, surging prices due to TRAIN law, and desire to freeze wages amidst rising inflation, it added.
“Naked attacks on activists, critics, `so-called poor drug suspects’ parallel with squeezing the belly and purse of poor, while the few rich and transnational corporations are accumulating more wealth day by day are Duterte’s naked invitation to unrest. More attacks on resisting and struggling people will not stop them, it will fire them. The government will no longer find the 16 millions who voted for him,” CTUHR ended.
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