KMU blames Duterte for intensified attacks in Compostela

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao (KMU-SMR) blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for “intensifying attacks on union workers” after two Sumifru Packing Plant union leaders survived separate assaults within a week.

KMU-SMR said in a statement Victor Ageas, Board of Director of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU), was ambushed by motorcycle-riding gunmen Tuesday, September 4, at about 6:30 am while he was bound for work at Sumifru Packing Plant 340 at Purok Uno, Barangay Osmeña in Compostela town.

The unidentified assailants fired at the labor leader six times but Aegas was able to escape, the group said.

The attack came a day after Sumifru workers staged a protest action against the company for refusing to recognize them as regular employees.

KMU said that, in July 26, two masked men also went to Aegas’ house and asked for his whereabouts but left when told their target was not around.

Another union leader, Melodina Gumanoy, Secretary of NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU, was also tailed by motorcycle-riding men last Thursday, August 30, KMU said.

Gumanoy was on on her way to work in Packing Plant 250 of Sumifru at Purok 8, Brgy. Osmeña, Compostela when she realized she was being tailed by her attackers.

She hid in a nearby house to evade her attackers.

The attacks on workers-unionists intensified in Compostela Valley after President Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) a “terrorist” organization and subsequently tagged KMU and other progressive organizations as legal fronts of the underground group, KMU said.

Farmers are also being attacked in Compostela, the labor center said.

Peasant couple Gilbert and Jean Labial, members of Compostela Farmers Association, were gunned down last August 19, 2018 in Bango, Compostela, after attending the wake of Rolly Panebio, a fellow CFA member and security personnel of the Salugpongan Learning Center in Bango.

“KMU holds the Armed Forces of the Philippines President Duterte accountable for these blatant violation of the workers’ economic and political rights. KMU believes that these attacks are the Duterte government’s move to protect the business interests of Sumifru and mining companies in the area,” KMU said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

152 OFWs get Dubai exit pass; 88 home by August 15

By Angel Tesorero in Dubai / Raymund B. Villanueva in Manila

Dubai, UAE – A total of 152 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were given an exit pass in the first three working days (August 1, 2 and 5) of the 90-day immigration amnesty program, Philippine consul-general to Dubai Paul Raymund Cortes said Tuesday.

An estimated hundreds of thousand dirhams of overstaying fines were waived by the UAE government while the Philippine Consulate paid for the exit permits, including the Dh221 for an outpass and Dh521 fee for lifting of the absconding case to clear the name of the overstaying expat from the immigration list and letting the person return to the UAE without travel ban.

The Philippine Consulate also booked one-way tickets (DXB-MNL) for the returning Filipinos.

“Out of the 152 amnesty-seekers, 93 were given free tickets; the rest were not aware that we are providing them with free tickets. Some of them have both tickets a month before. Unfortunately, we cannot refund the fare due to restrictions in the Philippine government auditing rules,” Cortes said.

He explained that booking should be done by the Philippine Consulate.

OFW Fernando Pacheho holding his UAE exit pass. (Photo by Angel L. Tesorero)

Cortes added that out of the 93 who were given free tickets, five are minors who will travel with their respective guardians and the travel expenses of the guardians will also be shouldered by the Philippine government.

The first batch of 88 returning Filipinos will fly out of Dubai on August 15 via Philippine Airlines flight PR 659 which will take off from DXB Terminal 1 at 7:35pm and arrive 8.15am the following day (Manila time) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, where they will be met by officials from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Cortes pegged the cost of sending home an overstaying Filipino at Dh2,200 each, including the cost of air fare and exit permits.

Dubai newspaper Khaleej Times earlier reported that, according to a source at the Philippine Consulate, around 5,000 overstaying Filipinos are expected to avail of the amnesty program and would probably go back home.

At a cost of Dh2,200 (fees and plane ticket) per person, the Philippine government is set to shell out at least Dh11m, which will be taken from the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) funds.

Cortes added that an undisclosed amount of welfare assistance will be provided to the returning Filipinos while the DFA officials in Manila will assist them in their travel from the airport to their respective hometowns or provinces.

“We are glad that the first of batch of Filipinos are finally going home and will be reunited with their loved ones and respective families. We are very happy that the UAE government has given them a chance to return to the Philippines through the amnesty program by waiving the overstaying fees. We at the Philippine Consulate are also happy to be part of bringing our kababayans (compatriots) back home through the DFA funding,” Cortes said.

He added: “We want to assure our kababayans that all assistance will be given to them to the fullest extent. And for those who will prefer to stay in the country and rectify their residency status, we will also provide them with utmost assistance in the documentation of their papers. But we would like to remind them to fulfill the necessary documents such as birth certificate to get a passport.”

PH government welcomes amnesty

In Manila, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) claimed 100,000 overseas Filipino workers would benefit from UAE’s amnesty declaration for overstaying foreign workers.

An expected 87,706 undocumented and overstaying Filipino workers are expected to apply for amnesty in Abu Dhabi and around 14,400 in Dubai, DOLE reported.

The amnesty program is effective from August to the end of October.

Those who wish to rectify their illegal status may be given assistance at the Philippine Embassy in the UAE as well as at Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, DOLE said.

DOLE said there are 646,258 documented OFWs in UAE, 224,572 of whom are in Abu Dhabi while 421,686 are in Dubai.

In light with this, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III called on overstaying as well as beleaguered OFWs to rectify their status in the Emirates or seek voluntary repatriation back to the Philippines.

“Our government is ready to help them if they wish to go back home,” Bello said.

OFWs who will seek voluntary repatriation will receive assistance from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), including airport at cash assistance as well as overseas or local employment referral, livelihood assistance, legal at conciliation service, competency assessment at training assistance under DOLE’s Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood) Program. # (Photo by AL Tesorero)

Freed activist fulfills promise to fellow inmates

Anakbayan secretary general Einstein Recedes were among the 19 NutriAsia workers, supporters and journalists jailed by the Meycauayan police last July 30.

A few hours after their release last Wednesday, Recedes narrated to wellwishers and reporters about a promise he made with hundreds of fellow inmates at the Meycauayan police station. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)


NutriAsia guards, Meycauayan police deliberately attack journalists

During the violent dispersal of striking NutriAsia workers and their supporters last Monday, July 30, company guards and Meycauayan police under the direct supervision of Superintendent Santos Mera attacked and arrested without provocation members of the media covering the incident.

This video is a collection of actual footage by Kodao and Altermidya reporters who were arrested and hurt, as well as Supt. Mera’s illegal efforts to prevent others to inquire with him if they arrested the five journalists.

Liham sa Mamimili sa Pagitan ng Patalastas at Pandarahas sa NutriAsia

ni Joi Barrios-Leblanc

Mahal na Mamimili, ganito ang ibinabandera sa patalastas:
Masarap, masaya, basta’t NutriAsia.
Maasim ang Datu Puti na suka,
at All-around ang Mang Tomas na sarsa,
Manamis-namis at maalat naman ang toyong Silver Swan,
At ang ketchup na UFC, ay may tamis-anghang.
Paano nga ba makokompleto ang sangkap sa kusina
kung walang Nutri-asia na pampalasa?

Ganito naman inilalarawan ng kapitalista’t pasista
ang lahat ng nasa piket sa pabrika ng NutriAsia:
Basagulero ang mga iyan at naghagis ng bato,
May dalang droga kaya sila inaresto.
Pakialamero ang estudyanteng sasali-sali sa piket.
May bitbit na baril ang media, kung kaya’t ipiniit.
Samakatuwid: Kriminal silang binugbog at duguan.
Kaladkarin sa bilangguan, sampahan ng kaso sa hukuman.

Mamimili tayong lahat na hindi na kailanman
dapat makapagtimpla ng adobo
nang hindi naalalala ang duguang mukha
ng inaarestong matandang manggagawa,
o makapagsasawsaw ng inihaw na isda
nang hindi sumasagi sa gunita
kung paanong sa minsang pagbuwag ng piket,
nakadapa na’y patuloy pa rin ang pulisya sa paghataw
sa kanilang ang tanging ipinaglalaban
ay trabahong regular, kaligtasan at sapat na kita.

Patawarin tayo ni Lolang manggagawa,
sa mga hapagkainan nating ang asim at tamis,
ay likha nilang nagsisikhay sa pabrika.
Patawarin tayo nilang lahat na pinagbintangang kriminal:
silang baldado ang braso, napilay ang paa,
nagkasugat-sugat ang balat, at isinadlak sa likod ng rehas,
Patawarin tayo sa pagkikibit-balikat sa pandarahas,
basta’t may anghang at alat, ang hapunan sa hapag.

Mahal na Mamimili, na sana’y hindi pa nabubulunan,
Heto ang panawagan:
Ipamukha sa Nutri-Asia na walang sarap o saya
Hangga’t walang natitikmang katarungan sa paggawa.

‘Mas gusto pang magbayad sa security’

“Ang kapitalista, mas gusto pang magbayad sa mga militar, sa mga pulis, sa mga security kaysa bayaran yung mga manggagawang pinakikinabangan niya.”—Nenita Gonzaga, Vice President for Women, Kilusang Mayo Uno

‘Lahat nakaranas ng pananakit sa kanila’

“Hindi lang manggagawa. Lahat ng mga sektor na narito, at mga estudyante, nakaranas ng pananakit sa kanila. Pati pari. Wala silang pakialam.”–Reynante Gudinez, Spokesperson, Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia

Video shows violent NutriAsia dispersal instigated by guards

Using Philippine National Police shields, NutriAsia guards attacked the striking workers and their supporters in the violent dispersal at Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

In this video by Radyo Natin-Guimba reporter Jek Alcaraz, the workers and their supporters were asking the guards not to use their truncheons but were viciously attacked nonetheless.

Alcaraz was told by guards to go behind them, but was later hit on her lower right thigh by a truncheon-flailing guard during the melee.

The workers tried to defend themselves with placards as shield and later threw back a few stones and pieces of wood in retaliation but were easily overpowered by the aggressive guards.

The video later showed Alcaraz momentarily trapped inside the strikers’ makeshift hut but was able to retreat to a safe distance after instructing a woman to go through a gap in a barbwire fence.

Scores hurt, arrested from violent dispersal by police and NutriAsia guards

Nineteen NutriAsia workers and supporters were arrested as 100 elements of the Meycauyan Police and security guards dispersed the picketline just outside the factory in Marilao, Bulacan.

In a phone interview with Bulatlat, NutriAsia worker William Espiritu said the violence started at around 3. pm. today, July 31.

While an ecumenical prayer by some 300 workers and supporters was being held, company security guards started pushing the workers using police’s shields. After a few minutes, the policemen and guards hit the protesters with rattan sticks and threw stones at them.

“They kept on striking us, even as we raised our hands,” Espiritu said. “They did not have any mercy.”

Espiritu said a dialogue between the management and their union was scheduled today. “We were ready to dismantle our picket if need be. Our only demand is to reinstate all the dismissed workers,” he said in Filipino.

One of the supporters of NutriAsia workers hit by the police. (Photo courtesy of Anakbayan)

One of the supporters, identified as Leticia Espino, a member of Kadamay from Pandi, Bulacan was among those hurt. A photograph posted by Anakbayan shows blood all over Espino’s mouth, spilling on her scarf and blouse.

Two others, Espiritu said, were brought to the hospital in critical condition. At least 20 more were wounded and given first aid.

Nineteen were arrested and brought to Meycauayan Police Station, according to Karra Taggaoa, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). Among those arrested were Anakbayan Secretary General Einstein Recedes and LFS Secretary General Mark Quinto.

After the arrests and beatings, Espiritu said the policemen and security guards destroyed the workers’ makeshift tents and confiscated their laptops, cellphones, bags containing cash and personal belongings.

Espiritu said at least 20 motorcycles and some bicycles owned by NutriAsia workers were also taken by policemen and security guards and brought inside the NutriAsia compound.

NutriAsia workers began their strike on June 2 after management dismissed 50 workers. The NurtiAsia workers are also demanding regularization.

Journalists hurt, arrested

Also apprehended were journalists covering the incident.

Rhea Padilla, national coordinator of Altermidya, said one of their volunteers, Hiyas Saturay sent her a message informing her that she and her colleagues Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, Psalty Caluza were being taken by policemen.

A campus journalist, Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the Scientia publication of the College of Science of UP, was also arrested.

The five were among the 19 arrested and are currently detained at the Meycauayan Police Station.

Another journalist, Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin Guimba, was hurt when NutriAsia security guards hit her with rattan sticks and pushed her away. While filming the dispersal, a policeman hit her camera, a Canon 70D.

“They knew that I’m a journalist. I’m wearing my ID,” Alcaraz told Bulatlat.

Kodao reporter Joseph Cuevas was also told by a company guard to stop filming or his camera would be destroyed.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the arrest of the five journalists, the attack on Alcaraz and threat against Cuevas.

“We denounce the security personnel of NutriAsia for deliberately targeting journalists and the Bulacan police not only for failing to prevent or stop this outrage from happening but, even worse, arresting five colleagues, making false claims about them, and then preventing other journalists from inquiring after them and covering their detention,” the NUJP in a statement said.

The group demanded the release of the five detained journalists by the Meycauayan police and forget plans of filing trumped up criminal charges against the journalists.

The NUJP likewise called on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates.

Kodao tried to interview NutriAsia guards after the dispersal and arrests but was refused. At the Meycauayan PNP station, the Kodao team was told to leave the precinct when it inquired about the arrested journalists. # (Len Olea/Bulatlat and Raymund B. Villanueva/Kodao)

Patuloy ang welga ng mga manggagawa ng CoreAsia

Ni Joseph Cuevas

Valenzuela City—Binisita ng International Solidarity Mission (ISM) at mga taong simbahan ang piketlayn ng mga manggagawa ng CoreAsia Paper Mills sa Bagbaguin sa Valenzuela City. Doon nakawelga ang halos 50 na manggagawa na tinanggal nang management matapos magtayo ng unyon.

Ayon kay Joseph Lorico, Internal Vice-President nang Pinagkaisang Lakas ng mga Manggagawa ng CoreAsia, hindi makatarungan ang pagtanggal sa kanila sa trabaho dahil sa piket protesta at welga simula noong Hulyo 2.

Samu’t-saring mga isyu ang inirereklamo ng mga manggagawa bago magwelga. Nariyan ang napakababang sahod para sa mga pahinante at drayber ng pagawaan na umaabot lamang sa P280 kada araw, gayundin ang sobrang habang oras na pagtratrabaho na aabot sa 10 hanggang 15 oras.

Dagdag pa ni Lorico, kahit ang pagpapagamot ay sila pa ang gumasgastos at nag-aayos. May isang insidente na halos maputol ang kamay ng isang manggagawa dahil naipit ito sa makina subalit siya pa ang nagasikaso ng kanyang SSS (Social Security Sytem) benefit.

Higit pa rito, ayon sa lider manggagawa, ipinapatupad ng CoreAsia ang sistemang kontraktwal. Sa halos 108 manggagawa, kalahati sa kanila ay kontraktwal at nakapaloob sa mga agency. Sapilitan din silang pinagresign nang kanilang iputok ang welga. Ginamit ng kumpanya ang Pulis Valenzuela na kumbinsihin sila na itigil na ang welga at magbubukas naman uli diumano ito sa katapusan ng Hulyo—isang malinaw na union busting o pambubuwag sa unyon ayon kay Lorico.

Dumagsa naman ang ibat-ibang grupo para suportahan at tulungan ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawa. Lumapit na din sila sa Department of Labor and Employement para makipag-ugnayan sa kaso nila, katuwang ang kanilang abugado.

Sa kanilang bisita, inalam ng ISM ang tunay na kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa ilalim ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte. Nalaman nila na nagpapatuloy ang kontraktwalisasyon sa sektor ng paggawa sa kabila ng pangako ng pangulong agarang tatapusin ang kontraktuwalisasyon. Dagdag pa, nalaman ng ISM na nagsasabwatan ang mga kapitalista at pulisya upang labagin ang karapatan ng mga manggagawa na maglunsad ng protesta o welga para sa mga demokratikong panawagan, tulad ng kasiguruhan sa trabaho, tamang pasahod at ligtas na pagawaan.

Ayon sa mga manggagawa, inihanda na nila ang kanilang mga sarili sa kung anuman ang kahihitnan ng kanilang laban. Naniniwala sila na mananaig ang panawagan nilang makabalik sa trabaho at maging inspirasyon sila sa kapwa manggagawa na lumaban at nanindigan para sahod, trabaho at karapatan.

Ang CoreAsia ay pagmamay-ari ng kapitalistang si Chris Chua. Ito ay paggawaan ng cores and tubes ng toilet paper gayundin paste board, sheeted paper at iba pang produktong yari sa papel. #