Tag Archives: Kilusang Mayo Uno

[Urgent Appeal] Court records, military asset and mil docus used as evidence to affirm fabrication of charges on activists -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-010-2013
3 April 2013
[RE: AHRC-UAU-036-2012: PHILIPPINES: Two urban poor leaders and 30 others falsely charged with murder]
———————————————————————
PHILIPPINES: Court records, military asset and military documents were used as evidence to affirm fabrication of charges on activists
ISSUES: Human rights defenders; administration of justice; fabrication of charges
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing with deep concern that the investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after our appeals concerning the fabrication of charges on two urban poor leaders was ineffective. It appears that CHR investigators did not investigate adequately and thoroughly. Rather than conducting a serious investigation they collected documents from the court, cited confessional evidence of a military asset and documents from the military to conclude their report.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

In December 19, 2012, we issued an appeal concerning the fabrication of charges on Roy Velez, regional chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Amelita Gamara, of Defend Job Philippines, and 30 others. For details please see: AHRC-UAU-036-2012.

In response to our appeal, on January 21, 2013 the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional Office in Naga City conducted their investigation. In their investigation, however, the CHR reaffirmed the filing of charges on them and concluded that:

“……..It appears on the evidences presented by the side of the complainant that the witnesses were former members of the NPA who positively identified the list of accused in this case. The witnesses were able to recount the incident of the attack as it happened……..

The right to due process includes the right to meet your accusers and their witnesses face to face. The witnesses in this case were willing to testify for and in behalf of the victims. They stand by their testimony that they have witnessed the commission of the crime and that they were able to identify the names of the accused for they were once of the NPA but are now rebel returnees.

The accused should face the accusations against them in order for them to be able to give their side of the case and to prove their innocence in the crime they are accused of. (Attys. Arlene Alangco & Donnah Federico-Madrona, CHR Region V sub-office Investigation Report, January 21, 2013, pp. 4-5)”

Upon receipt of the CHR’s report, the AHRC forwarded the copy to Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara who are presently forced to go into hiding.

In her reply, Gamara pointed out:

“……The contents of the report was a disappointment to me. It was a rephrased copy of the Information and Resolution from the prosecutor who filed the case before the Branch 64 Labo Regional Trial Court

…..we were denied of this right because not a single piece of this information came to our knowledge until two persons were arrested (Raul Camposano and Randy Vegas of COURAGE) under the same warrant of arrest. The CHR one sidedly relied on the complainants’ and witnesses’ statements that we live in some general location address, and conveniently stated in the resolution that no response came from the address to where they sent the notices.”

In his reply, Velez pointed out:

“In the declaration of their definition of “truth”, is it as if the CHR merely use the statements of facts information which came from only one side? If the military is the one accusing a certain person, and you are not biased, you will not use/issue a statement of fact that is purely one-sided.

Did the confirm that me and Amelita Bravante were really there? It is VERY CLEAR that they DID NOT. They did not even attempted to go to the KMU National’s office which is just a 30-minute ride from their office in UP. They did not even ask for our opinion or our side of the story and they just used the information in the court that came only from the military.

COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS OF THE AHRC:

In concluding their report, the CHR relied heavily on the court documents they obtained from a Court Interpreter at the Regional Trial Court Branch (RTC), Branch 64, in Labo, Camarines Norte on January 15, 2013. The CHR ignored the victims’ alibi that they could not have been physically present in Barangay Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte on April 29, 2012, where the attack that killed four soldiers took place.

In the unofficial translation of their sworn statements originally written in Filipino, in Gamara’s statement & Velez’ statement it was clear that they were both in Metro Manila, and could not have been physically present at the location where the crime happened. However, there is nothing in the CHR’s investigation report that includes their testimonies.

The testimonies of the witnesses, where the CHR pointed as evidence of the “positive identification of the accused,” were witnesses: Gil Oresaca, an intelligence person working for the military and SP02 Reynate Nacario, who neither knew the perpetrators of the attack in person or by their names. Also, the documents of the investigation the CHR has quoted is information provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not the police, because the CHR did not even get the forensic investigation report despite repeated requests.

Also, it is unthinkable for Oresca to identify with accuracy the names, aliases and exact home address of the 23 rebels, two of whom are the accused Velez and Gamara, at once in a very chaotic situation of attack. Also SP02 Nacario’s ‘positive identification’ of the accused was not his identification, but from the military men who had debriefed him and given him the names of the supposed identities of the perpetrators.

Gamara and Velez were both in Metro Manila on the same day the killing happened. In fact, Gamara could not walk properly due to her illness and medical condition. Also, there were witnesses who could testify that Velez was physically present in the Silverio compound, Paranaque City, to assist the burial of a villager who was killed in a demolition.

Moreover, when the CHR conducted its investigation neither Velez nor Gamara was given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. The AHRC is deeply concerned by the manner in which the CHR is conducting its investigation in this case.

Therefore, we urged the CHR to review their investigation. The victims, who are also the accused in the fabricated criminal charges should be given an opportunity to respond substantively to the allegations against them.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

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[Press Release] Falsely charged labor leaders plea for investigation, cries due process -CTUHR

Falsely charged labor leaders plea for investigation, cries due process

CTUHR logoFalsely charged labor leaders sought court intervention to drop counts of criminal charges by members of AFP in a preliminary hearing last March 7 in Labo, Camariners Norte Regional Trial Court.

In their pleading, abducted and detained Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, both labor leaders and members Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), together with Amelita Baravante and Roy Velez of Kilusang Mayo Uno, cited prosecutors’ arbitrary proceedings that violate their right to due process.

Prosecutors did not oppose motions to conduct investigation but slammed their motion to quash information and warrant of arrest, which will supposedly release the two detained leaders and drop charges against the two others if approved.

The labor leader’s motion, now submitted for resolution to judge, and will be decided after 30 days.

On December last year, charges of murder linking to twp New People’s Army (NPA) operations in the 49th IB detachment in Camarines Norte and another in Ifugao were slapped against the four labor leaders together with 26 other individuals. These charges became known to the leaders’ relatives days after the abduction of Vegas and Camposano by military agents in two separate locations in Metro Manila. Vegas and Camposano were subsequently detained in Daet District Jail in Camarines Norte.

“No subpoena nor any notice was sent to sent to the them during the preliminary investigation which clearly violates their right to due process. But beyond that, this increasing trend of filing of false charges against trade unionists which is even more alarming as it attacks their right and freedom to unionize,” said Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation.

Charges were filed by main complainant P/ C Insp. Weneco Fuentes of Camarines Norte CIDG backed by the testimonies of members of the 49th IB and intelligence asset who identifies the accused based on his alleged “records”.

Research from labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, showed that malicious or trumped up criminal charges against labor leaders and workers, mostly unionists, has more than doubled from an average of 42 individuals charged per year between 2004-2009 to an average of 90 individuals every year between 2010 to 2012. (See link)

“To a large extent, this rise in malicious filing of criminal charges against unionists, not to mention other forms of human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, can be attributed to the government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan,” Hernando said.

CTUHR called on to the Aquino administration to drop false charges against unionists and comply with the recommendations of the International Labor Organization (ILO) following ILO’s High Level Mission in 2009.

CTUHR also appealed to the public to urge the government to end oppressive policies such as Oplan Bayanihan. “Counter insurgency programs of past governments have cost many lives and have highly-compromised our freedoms and rights. We are challenged to unite against Op Bay and press the Aquino administration to live up to its promise of straight path and bring an end to human rights violations.” Hernando added.

RELEASE
15 March 2013
for Reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation, +632.411.0256

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[Press Release] Workers face more malicious charges under Aquino-CTUHR

Workers face more malicious charges under Aquino-CTUHR

CTUHR logoMalicious filing of criminal cases (criminalization) against workers and unionists intensified under Aquino according to labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights from an average of 7 cases per year between 2004-2009 to an average of 12 cases per year between 2010 to 2011.

CTUHR documentation also showed that the number of individuals victimized by these malicious or trumped up criminal charges more than doubled in the same period—from an average of 42 individuals charged per year between 2004-2009 to an average of 90 individuals every year between 2010-2012.

The group noted two forms of criminalization against workers and unionists: one is when workers are charged by capitalists with criminal offenses whenever the worker/s filed complaints against the former’s non-compliance with legal standards or when the union is in conflict with the management; the other type of criminalization is perpetrated by state agents reportedly by the military wherein union leaders of militant labor centers are maliciously linked to operations of armed groups particularly the New People’s Army.

Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation expressed alarm over this heightening spate of criminalization and said that it undermines workers right to unionize and jeopardizes the very few mechanisms where workers can seek redress when in conflict with their employers.

The group also pointed to the state’s counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, as culprit to most of these “legal offensives” and violations of workers’ freedom to unionize. “Like the previous administration, the Aquino administration and the military continue to malign legitimate people’s organizations and unions by linking them with the NPAs. And same with, if not worse than, past counterinsurgency programs, Oplan Bayanihan has resulted to volumes of human rights violations including these harassments through filing of trumped up cases, extrajudicial killings and others,” Hernando added.

Late last year, leaders of militant unions, Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara of Kilusang Mayo Uno and Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) were charged with murder linked to two separate NPA operations in Ifugao and Daet, Camarines Norte. Vegas and Camposano were first abducted reportedly by military agents on December 3, 2012 and this was followed by malicious filing of criminal charges.

The group challenged the Aquino government to comply with the ILO recommendations to uphold workers’ freedom of association and drop criminal charges against workers exercising their right to unionize and strike. In 2010, the International Labor Organization (ILO) released its recommendations to the Philippine Government following the ILO High Level Mission that investigated the spate of human rights violations against unions and workers.

For reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation. +632.411.0256, +63923.819.3737

ctuhr.org

RELEASE
27 February 2012

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[In the news] Long wait ends for HR victims -PhilStar.com

Long wait ends for HR victims
By Mike Frialde, The Philippine Star
February 25, 2013

philstar-logo-white1MANILA, PhilippinesLabor leader Romy Castillo will never forget the events of July 23, 1984, the day he was introduced to wet submarine, dry submarine and electrocution.

Following his arrest by agents of the Marcos regime, Castillo was subjected to nine days of torture and abuse meant to break his will and make him admit his affiliation with the communists.

His ordeal finally ended on Feb. 26, 1986, the day after the people power revolt booted Marcos out of Malacañang.

President Aquino is set to sign into law today an act recognizing the atrocities of the Marcos government and granting reparation to human rights victims like Castillo.

Castillo, now 61, recalled that around 2 a.m. of July 23, 1984, agents of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG) raided the staff house of the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Barrio Tubigan, Antipolo, and arrested him and four of his fellow labor leaders. He was beaten until he lost consciousness.

Castillo, also known as Ka Romy, said they were planning to stage a big rally of workers against Marcos.

Read full article @www.philstar.com

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[Press Release] Thousands of workers and their families staged a strike in the Philippines largest oil palm plantations over non-payment of wages and long-term casualization -CTUHR

Thousands of workers and their families staged a strike in the Philippines largest oil palm plantations over non-payment of wages and long-term casualization

CTUHR logoWorkers and families from Filipinas Palmoil Plantation, Inc. (FPPI), Agusan Plantation, Inc. (API), and AGUMILL located at Rosario and Trento, Agusandel Sur, Caraga Region, Philippines staged a simultaneous strike on Tuesday, November 27, against what they called gross violations of labour standards and mass termination of 252 casual employees at FPPI last October 25 and 15 workers from API following the Labor Department’s ocular inspection on long term casualization at FPPI. More than half of FPPI’s 1000 estimated workforce are casuals, with employment services ranging from 5 to 29 years.

On October 23-24, 2012, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) conducted an ocular inspection and confirmed the workers allegations that two palm oil giants are violating labor standards. However, the two companies reportedly asked the workers covered by the inspection to sign waiver recanting the DOLE’s findings but refused were dismissed outright and threatened to evict from the houses they were occupying.

Rexon Generol for instance, a harvester, and started working at FPPI at the age of 14 was dismissed after he testified in a CTUHR Public Forum on Child Labor in Manila that his status remains casual after his 27 years of employment, and was only paid Php150 a day, or mere 58% of prescribed minimum wage, sans the other legally mandated benefits.

One month into unemployment, terminated workers cringe from deprivation of livelihood, lack of food while children stopped going to school.

“The failure of the law and government mechanisms to protect the workers from the management retaliatory actions such as dismissal from work after they testify in a government investigation or in a public forum embolden the employers and corporations to violate the workers rights with impunity”, says Daisy Arago, executive director of labor rights organization, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR). “At the same time, it reduces the workers to silence and accept even the most inhumane conditions at work, while companies enjoy the profits they gained from repressed workers. DOLE, has to do more than recording its findings”, Arago added.

Striking workers also decry the three companies discriminatory practices such as 1) Underpayment of wages; 2) absence of mandatory social security benefits, Philhealth (health) and Pag-ibig (housing) premium; 3) Non-payment of Holiday Pay, 13th month pay; 5) Non-implementation of service incentive Leave ; 6) absence of rest day; 7) Non-provision of Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPE’s) against 600 FPPI workers, 100 API workers and 50 AGUMILL workers.

In addition, workers who are also union members complain about violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) including non-regularization of the casual workers who have been in the company for more than six months as provided by law. Also included in the list of violations are: non replacement of retired workers, failure to do Housing repair, absence of potable water in plantation covered areas, failure to provide Production and Safety Equipment resulting to accidents and injuries, termination of 4 union members, exclusion of more than 200 workers from CBA benefits 2007 to 2011; 8) on-payment of backwages from 2007 – 2011, delays in payment of wages, non-implementation of government mandated wage increases, and others.

`The workers could no longer endure the inhumane treatment that they get from the companies, they have suffered so long, says Jacinto Tanduyan, Secretary –General of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Caraga, from which the three local unions are affiliated. Tanduyan added, that what the workers were asking are simply the implementation the laws , but it is apparent that even the Department of Labor and Employment could not do anything or has not done what is expected to do to implement the law. Jacinto further noted that the companies have grown bigger, but the workers had been pushed deeper into poverty due to the companies arrogant refusal to abide by the law, a concrete indicator, is the rise in the number of child labor in 15,000 hectares of oil palm plantations managed, owned or supplying for FPPI, API and Agumill.

CTUHR recent study reveals that 24% of workers in the oil palm plantations are children aged 17 years and below, doing back breaking jobs with wages ranging from Php25.00 to Php 150 a day.

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[Urgent Appeal] Falsely charged labour leader submits himself to trial to clear his name and those of others -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-152-2012

29 August 2012
————–
PHILIPPINES: Falsely charged labour leader submits himself to trial to clear his name and those of others
ISSUES: Human rights defenders; administration of justice; fabrication of charges
————–

Dear friends,

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that a labour leader falsely charged for robbery entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ at the beginning of his trial on August 23, 2012. In order to clear his and those of other activists, he submitted himself to the court proceedings, knowing full well that they are being prosecuted over fabricated evidence as a result of their human rights work.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on documentation by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and the AHRC)

In April this year, the CTUHR reported that Ronald Ian Evidente, a trade union organizer and spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), and 30 others have been charged with criminal case of “Robbery in Band” at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Sagay City, Negros. The details of his human rights work is revealed in the aforementioned report. On August 23, 2012, Evidente entered a plea of “not guilty”.

The complaint, filed by Arn Belonio, property custodian of Sagay Agricultural Industrial Corporation (Saicor) and Sagay Aqua Ventures Corporation (Savecor), was in connection with the robbery incident which happened at the compound of Savecor’s in Sagay City, on July 16, 2011. Stolen during the incident were communications equipment, service firearms and ammunition belonging to the security guards at the compound.

In his complaint-affidavit, however, it was not Belonio who had “positively identified” the identity or names of 29 persons in the charge, but Freddie Sanchez. Sanchez, who was not even physically present where the incident has happened, had been admitted as witness for the prosecution and his testimony used as evidence. He claimed to be a former rebel leader and that he was in a meeting when the rebels planned the robbery.

But in Sanchez’ testimony, he did not provide any details as to whether the persons he had identified to have planned the robbery “sometime during the 1st week of July 2011” were also present and the same persons who had carried out the robbery. Nevertheless, the prosecutor admits his testimony to conclude there was “probable cause.”

Also, even the identification of Ruel Bulanon, a worker at Savecor, who was present at the crime scene, of the two persons who robbed their compound, namely Rogelio Danoso and Joefrel Along, was not his own “positive identification”. Bulanon identified them only when “Senior Police Officer 1 (SP01) Danilo Geroldo, intel (intelligence officer) PNCO of Sagay City Police Station showed to me their rogue gallery of members of the NPA.”

Despite questions as to the validity of the evidence, the prosecutor nevertheless resolved in December 20, 2011 to proceed with prosecuting the accused for “Robbery in Band” by copying and pasting verbatim the testimonies of Belonio and Bulanon in his resolution. None of the respondents were informed of the charges against them, nor were they given opportunity to respond to the allegations.

For his part, Evidente had a very strong defense of alibi as he was neither present at the planning nor at the actual robbery. He was busy organizing and assisting workers at the Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Bacolod City beset by issues of suspension ad termination.

It was only on April 3, 2012, when one of the accused, Christian Tuayon, secretary general Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), was arrested in a rally in Bacolod City, that the criminal charges against them was made known to the accused. Also, only this time that Evidente became aware of the order for arrest the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 60, in Cadiz City, had issued on January 20, 2012. Evidente posted a bail of Php 15,000 (USD 355) for his temporary liberty.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking for their adequate and immediate intervention for the withdrawal of criminal charges on the victims.
The AHRC is also writing separate letters to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for her intervention on this case.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear _______________,

PHILIPPINES: Falsely charged labour leader plead ‘not guilty’ to clear name in court
Names of falsely charge activists:

1. Ronald Ian Evidente, spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (UNO) in Negros
2. Christian Tuayon, secretary general Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)
There are 27 others listed as accused.

Details of the case:

The complaint for “Robbery in Band” was filed in July 2011 in connection with the robbery incident at the compound of Sagay Aqua Ventures Corporation (Savecor), in Sagay City. In December 20, 2011, the prosecutor concluded that there was a “probable cause” to proceed with the prosecution of the all the accused. On January 20, 2012, the court issued an order for their arrest.

Status of the case:

On August 23, 2011, Ronald Ian Evidente entered a plea of “not guilty” during the arraignment of his case. The pre-trial conference is scheduled on September 4, 2012.

I am writing to raise my deep concern on the prosecution of the 29 human rights and labour and activists and others, whose names are mentioned above based on patently unreliable testimony and evidence. I am of the opinion that the prosecution of these victims was a result of their human rights work.

I understand that on December 20, 2011, the prosecutor’s office in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, has resolve to charge the victims for “Robbery in Band” based on the complaints of Arn Belonio, property custodian of Savecor; Ruel Bulanon, a worker at Savecor; and the supporting testimony of Freddie Sanchez, who claimed to be a former rebel leader and have known the rebels responsible in the robbery.

However, reading the prosecutor’s resolution dated December 20, 2011 those were copy and paste of the verbatim testimony of Belonio and Bulanon. Neither Belonio nor Bulanon had “positively identified” the alleged rebels who robbed their compound where the communications equipment, firearms and ammunitions were stolen which could have legally justify for the prosecution of all the accused. None of them knows or had personal knowledge of the identity and names of the accused.

The prosecutor merely heavily relied on the testimony of Freddie Sanchez, a rebel returnee, who claimed to be present in a meeting with rebel the leaders sometime in July 2011 when the robbery was being planned. However, in his testimony, he provided no details whether those who took part in the meeting were actually the same person who carried out the robbery. In fact, Evidente has had a strong defense of alibi as he was neither present at the planning nor at the actual robbery. He was busy organizing and assisting workers at the Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Bacolod City beset by issues of suspension ad termination.

I am deeply concerned by the prosecutor’s use of unreliable and questionable evidence, the denial of due process and remedies of all the accused.

Firstly, it was Sanchez, a witness who himself had been under the control, influence and getting benefits from the soldiers, who identified the accused and not Belonio. Secondly, although Bulanon had identified two of the robbers or rebels, namely Rogelio Danoso and Joefrel Along; however, their identities were known when the intelligence officer of a local police showed to him photographs of persons in their “rogue gallery.” Thus, Bulanon’s identification of the two persons and others could not be reliable, but rather a result of the police intelligence prodding for him to come out with names.

Nevertheless, despite knowing full well that the charges on them are fabricated, Evidente had resolved to clear his name by submitting himself to a court process at the commencement of trial of his case on August 23, 2012. Evidente pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges. He likewise posted a bail of Php 15,000 for his temporary liberty.

It is disappointing that Evidente and other activists would have to submit themselves to criminal proceedings over a patently fabricated criminal case on them. I am of the opinion that the prosecution and the filing of this case were as result of their human rights work. The AHRC has documented similar cases in the past. I therefore urge you to ensure that the charges are withdrawn.

I trust that you take immediate in this case.

Yours sincerely,
——————————
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Benigno 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

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Director General Nicanor Bartolome
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
E-mail: ruth_cossid@yahoo.com

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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[In the news] Disparity between daily wage and cost of living: “heaven and earth”-MindaNews

MindaNews » Disparity between daily wage and cost of living: “heaven and earth”.

By Bong S. Sarmiento
April 30, 2012

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/29 April) – “Heaven and earth.”

Adelaida Segumpan, Kilusang Mayong Uno (KMU) regional spokesperson said the disparity between the daily minimum wage rate and the estimated cost of living level in the area is now “heaven and earth” and they will push for a substantial wage hike and the abolition of the regional wage board during their Labor Day indignation rally on Tuesday.

“What the workers need now is a substantial wage increase in order for us to cope with the skyrocketing prices of petroleum products, basic commodities and services,” Segumpan said.

She described the recently approved P10 to P14 daily wage increase in the region “as a meager amount meant to pacify workers’ wrath against the callousness of the Aquino administration.”

Over the weekend, some 100 militant members stormed the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here where they staged a noise barrage in preparation for May

Ryan Lariba, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, pushed for the granting of a legislated P125 across-the-board daily increase to improve the plight of workers.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

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[In the news] PNoy rating dips because of poverty, hunger – labor group -thepoc.net

PNoy rating dips because of poverty, hunger – labor group
Angeli Sabillo,thepoc.net
29 April 2012

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)scored President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday, implying that the recent dip in his satisfactory ratings was because of his failure to ease hunger and poverty in the country.

In the Social Weather Station’s survey conducted last March 10 to 13, revealed that the Aquino administration’s net satisfaction dropped from “very good” (+56) in December 2011 to “good” (+46).

KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said it is the “failure to give the public some form of relief from the soaring prices of petroleum products as well as of basic goods and services” that resulted in the dip in satisfaction rating of the government.

“Dissatisfaction with the president on the issue of prices is closely linked with his failure to provide workers and the poor with types of relief from hunger and poverty, such a a substantial wage increase,” he added.

Read full article @ thepoc.net

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[Event] International delegates of mining mission to present report on Monday

29 April 2012

International delegates of mining mission to present report on Monday

Foreign delegates of the International Solidarity Mission on Mining (ISMM) and local labor groups will publicly present its mission report on Monday, April 30, 2012, 9 o’clock in the morning at the Kowloon Restaurant in West Ave. Quezon City.

The report will highlight the ISMM’s findings on their four-day mission in two regions, Cordillera and Caraga, considered as mining hotspots in the country.

Past and recent studies on mining in the Philippines have focused mainly on the industry’s impact on the environment and local communities. Reports on the labor situation in mining sites however remain sporadic and unsystematic – mainly coming from news reports of workers dying or being severely injured while at work.

The report will thus include the mission’s finding on mining’s impact on three major aspects: 1) communities’ employment, environment and livelihood vis-à-vis revenues generated or the profitability of the multinational mining companies 2) economic status and working conditions of the workers in the mines such as their wages, benefits and health and safety conditions and 3) trade union rights of workers especially with regard to fundamental principles and rights at work in line with the international labor standards and international humanitarian law.

Policymakers and lawmakers as well as other sectors of the community were invited to come to the public presentation. Other than the findings, a set of recommendations in terms of policy and campaign advocacy will also presented by the group to engage the government and other stakeholders in the achieving a more responsible and sustainable mining.

Foreign delegates of the ISMM came from various human rights and labor organizations in the countries of Australia, Belgium, Germany, South Korea, and the United States. The ISMM was organized by the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP), integrated Philippine Electronics Network (iPEN), Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Institute for Occupational Health Safety and Development (IOHSAD), Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (CBBRC) and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

Media coverage and Photo ops are requested.

What: Public Presentation of Report on Mining Mission

Where: Kowloon Restaurant, West Ave. Quezon City

When: Monday, 30 April 2012 at 9:00 a.m.

for Reference:
Mr. Reden Alcantara, Secreatry General, Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines, +63928.248.2211
Jane Siwa, Media Liason, International Solidarity Mission on Mining, +63917.468.2829

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[Press Release] Labor groups to hold international mission on mining -CTUHR

Labor groups to hold international mission on mining

Amid heightened labor rights violations in mining sites and environmental destruction due to widespread mining operations in the Philippines, six labor organizations in the country joined together to hold this year’s International Solidarity Mission on Mining (ISMM) beginning today, April 25 to May 2, 2012.

Organized by the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP), integrated Philippine Electronics Network (iPEN), Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Institute for Occupational Health Safety and Development (IOHSAD), Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (CBBRC) and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the ISMM will take place in mining areas in two regions, Cordillera and Caraga, which are both considered mining hotspots.

Foreign delegates coming from labor groups in South Korea, United States, Belgium, Australia, Japan and Germany will be joining the ISMM “to examine the extent of plunder of large-scale mining operations specifically those implemented by transnational companies” and to “to look into ways on how communities and workers can be protected from the destruction engendered by mining operations.”

By visiting mining spots in the abovementioned regions, the ISMM specifically aims to “assess the impacts of mining operations in the 1) communities’ employment, environment and livelihood vis-à-vis revenues generated or the profitability of the multinational mining companies 2) economic status and working conditions of the workers in the mines such as their wages, benefits and health and safety conditions and 3) trade union rights of workers especially with regard to fundamental principles and rights at work in line with the international labor standards and international humanitarian law.”

Delegates are also expected “to share experiences about mining campaigns and workers’ struggles from different countries” and “create avenues for international solidarity of mine workers and contribute in the strengthening of the struggle of Filipino workers in the mining industry.”

An orientation for the ISMM delegates will be held this afternoon, April 25, at the National Council of Churches of the Philippines Conference Room in the NCCP Building along EDSA near Quezon Ave. in Quezon City. The delegates will then be divided into two groups to do the actual mission on mining sites in the Cordillera and Caraga from April 26 to April 29.
The mission is expected to “come up with resolutions and recommendations that will further step up the campaign against destructive mining operations in the Philippines.” The findings and recommendation of the mission will be presented publicly on April 30 at 9am in the morning at Kowloon Restaurant in West Ave. Quezon City. Policymakers and other stakeholders in the mining industry are expected to come to the public presentation of the ISMM report.

On May 1, the mission delegates will then be joining the Labor Day mobilization in Manila to register the issues of mine workers as well as to demonstrate unity with the entire labor movement. ###

for Reference:
Mr. Reden Alcantara, Secretary General, Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines, +63928.248.2211
Ms. Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +632.411.0256

NEWS RELEASE
25 April 2012

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] KMU calls on Aquino to reopen Olalia case – INQUIRER.net

KMU calls on Aquino to reopen Olalia case
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 26, 2012

  The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has called on President Benigno Aquino III to revive the case against alleged masterminds of the gruesome murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay 25 years ago.

KMU chairperson Elmer Labog expressed confidence that with the way the government and law enforcement authorities are handling unsolved cases during past administrations, the perpetrators of the Olalia murder will be finally brought to justice.
“Now that the wind of justice is prevailing in the country, we expect that long-awaited justice will finally be served for the families of Olalia and Alay-ay,” said Labog in a press statement.

On Nov. 13, 1986, Olalia and Alay-ay were found dead in Antipolo, Rizal.  Their bodies were mutilated beyond recognition and the scar on Olalia’s leg was the only identifying mark that confirmed the labor leader’s identity.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[Press Release] CWS supports the people’s protest vs. oil price increases

The Church People-Workers’ Solidarity (CWS) calls on government to listen to the demands of the transport and other groups launching a transport strike against high oil price increases, saying that the people have a right to protest, “to participate in social and economic life” and to work for the common good (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 333).

Quoting the  Church’s social teachings,  Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, one of the convenors of CWS said that “governments must work for the realization of the common good. It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children. (Blessed John XXIII’s Mater
et Magistra, # 20)”

“Oil price has increased more than 20 times since January 2011, and this is causing added burden not only to drivers and operators but to workers, peasants, fisherfolks, and their families.”

Transport groups are calling for P9.00 per liter rollback of price of all oil products, as overpricing in oil prices since last year has reportedly reached to P9.00 per liter as a result of the monopoly of the Big 3 (Shell, Petron and Caltex) and the government’s deregulation
policy.

“In a situation where workers receive very little wages, the unabated oil price hikes erode the value of our workers’ income since prices of basic commodities also shoot up. The effect is far worse for workers whose jobs and income are both irregular.”

Ibon, an independent research institution, says that increases in oil prices are driving inflation.

Bishop Alminaza is also concerned of reports that both oil companies and the Philippine government are raking in billions in profits and revenues at the expense of the ordinary consumers.

According to Ibon Foundation, the profits of the oil firms since 2001 have  totaled to P141.7 B in 2010.

The Philippine government has also been getting revenues of P48 billion pesos annually or a total of P239.6 B in the last five years due to the 12% VAT on oil, according to a study by Ibon.

“Profit at the expense of the poor is immoral and unjust. The Church is very clear in its teachings that the well-being of our toiling brothers and sisters should come first before profit. Government must regulate oil industry  to moderate the greed of private oil firms.
The welfare of the majority must be prioritized,” Alminaza added.

Alminaza said the government must heed the calls for the review of the oil deregulation policy and for the removal of VAT on oil products.

A legitimate strike

Meanwhile, Garry Martinez, spokesperson of the CWS, also reacted to the threat of Malacañang and PNP that they will arrest  those who will join the transport strike.

“The transport strike is a lawful exercise of a constitutional right to freedom of expression and of assembly. It is a legitimate form of action of the people, so that those in power will be able to listen to the people’s demands,” Martinez said.

“The Aquino administration must show the political will to stop the big oil companies from imposing unreasonable prices.  The proposed extension of pantawid pasada program (PPP) which Aquino promised to prevent transport groups from staging the strike is not the solution. The PPP budget of P450 million is not even 1% of the government’s annual revenue from VAT on oil. The transport sector together with the people must be firm in its calls to rollback oil prices, to end the control of the oil cartel and remove VAT on oil.”###

Reference:
Bp. Gerardo Alminaza, Convenor CWS
Gary Martinez, Spokesperson CWS, 0939-3914418

[Press Release] Archbishop Lagdameo summons the Church to side with the oppressed – CWC

On his address to the delegates of the CWS National Conference,
Archbishop Lagdameo summons the Church to side with the oppressed

The Church must not stay in the sidelines in the fight for justice.”

From Pope Benedict XVI, the above quote was emphasized by outgoing CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, D.D., in his keynote address to the delegates of the first plenary session of the Church People-Workers Solidarity National Conference in Cebu City.

Speaking before 800 church people and workers, Lagdameo recognized the extreme injustice and oppression experienced by the workers throughout history and averred a saying, “[i]f we are neutral in a situation of injustice, then we choose to side with the oppressors.”

Lagdameo’s message focused on the development of the Church’s social teachings which dates back to 1891 with Pope Leo XII’s Rerum Navarum, a seminal encyclical on Labor and Capital, up to Pope John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens published in 1981. The said encyclicals, which Lagdameo stressed must be lived out by the Church, underlines the modern Catholic principle of “preferential option for the poor,” and affirms the “primacy of labor over capital.”

“[These are the] Catholic Church’s best kept teachings [which are] rarely taught on pulpits and talked about in Church circles….[The Church must]  reclaim its tradition [for this is the] bench mark for the living out of our faith in this world,” Lagdameo furthered.

Sr. Emelina Villegas, ICM, Board President of labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, was pleased with the address. She said, “I am glad because the Archbishop presented the history of the encyclicals in a developmental manner – how the Church is adapting and responding to the changing issues that confront society. Although still reactive, the Church is somehow able to cope with our changing reality. With this, my hopes are renewed and I can see that concrete action will result from this [conference].”

“No room for neutrality”

Kilusang  Mayo Uno National Chairperson, Elmer Labog, agreed with the Archbishop’s message that the Church must not be neutral when there is injustice, “In these times when connivance between capitalists and the government is ever inflicting more suffering to workers and the poor, there is no room for neutrality [for the Church]. Because if the Church will be neutral, then the workers have no one else to run to and the Church might be more easily swayed by reactionary forces.”

Valid and just calls

Former Anakpawis Partylist Representative Joel Maglunsod who also attended the conference said that learning about the Church teachings on the value of labor and human work puts Anakpawis in a high moral ground to further their calls and legislative agenda for just remuneration, security of tenure, and protection of workers’ rights and freedoms. Maglunsod noted, “The teachings of the Church only validates that the proposed bills of Anakpawis are just and legitimate in the same way that these bills were aligned with International Covenants and the 1986 Constitution.”

Why only now?

Lagdameo noted why it took decades before the Church is actually talking and doing something about its encyclicals. He explained that the canons of the Church is continuously developing and changing as society change. And while the issue of work and labor appears to be a very important concern, there are also new issues confronting society which the Church still lack knowledge of and social teachings about. These concerns include the issue of women, ecology, and the Eurocentric framework of the Church.

For his part, Labog said that it is always better late than never and the move of the Church to reach out to the workers is still a welcome development. “We hope that this conference will result to concrete steps that will truly help the workers in organizing and forming unions. Forming church people-worker groups in economic zones in Mactan, Cavite, Mindanao and some parts of Central Luzon will be of utmost help as workers in these areas experience severe exploitation and oppression.###

Reference: Roxanne Omega Doron, Media Liaison CWS, cws.cebu@yahoo.com, churchpeople.workers.solidarity@gmail.com, 09217862022.

[From the web] Militant workers demand P125 wage hike on Labor Day – ph.news.yahoo.com

By Marjorie Gorospe
Source: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/

Members of militant group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a rally in Mendiola Bridge urging the Aquino administration to approve a P125 wage hike on Labor Day. Article & photo by http://loqal.ph/

MANILA CITY, METRO MANILA—  Militant group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a rally in Mendiola on Thursday calling on a P125 minimum wage hike on Labor Day (May 1).

“For the longest time, past administrations of the country gave nothing but alms to our workers and right now, all we’re asking is the P125 wage increase,” said   KMU-National Capital Region chairperson Roy Velez.

“This increase will only be the good news we can consider, or they should just forget it,” said Velez, referring to an announcement by Malacañang that there will be “good news” for workers this Labor Day.

Read full article @ http://ph.news.yahoo.com/