24 Sept. 2015
A labor nongovernment organization (NGO) condemned the violent dispersal last Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 22) of the contractual workers’ strike at Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna with police forces firing gunshots and trying to run over workers with their vehicle.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER) said the contractual workers were only holding a protest at Tanduay Distillers Gate 2 to assert the labor department decision in upholding their regularization when hired goons and company security guards suddenly threw rocks at them as a company fire truck hosed them down.
Citing the video (insert link to video) released by independent video group Southern Tagalog Exposure (STEx), EILER said police intervened not to restore order in the company premises but to harass workers and prevent them from holding their protest. The video shows a police car arriving at the company gate in full throttle, turning around and barely running over the protesting workers.
One of the police officers also fired two gunshots as warning on striking workers, not on the hired goons who instigated the violence.
“We express serious alarm over the violent police intervention in the protest of striking Tanduay workers and their grave attempt on the life and safety of workers when they tried to run over protesting Tanduay workers. They are supposedly law enforcers but what they did was just overboard. This is beyond despicable,” said EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa-Colina.
“What transpired at Tanduay last Tuesday is a glimpse of the lengths by which government security forces will go just to protect the interest of big companies such as Tanduay which is owned by Forbes-listed billionaire Lucio Tan, while completely ignoring workers’ rights,” she added.
Escresa-Colina said sanctions must be imposed on the police officers who took part in the violent dispersal of striking workers.
EILER said the incident exposes the anti-worker and anti-strike character of the
“Guidelines on the Conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, PNP and AFP Relative to the Exercise of Workers’ Rights and Activities”, a document approved by the Aquino government with some labor groups in 2012.
In the guidelines, police forces and even members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines can easily come to the rescue of a company facing a labor dispute based merely on the anticipation of a security situation or an imagined commission of a crime.
“The incident at Tanduay exposes the Guidelines as a sugarcoated document which is actually meant to authorize the police and military intervention in labor disputes at the expense of workers’ rights, with the approval of some labor groups,” Escresa-Colina said.
“These outright violations of worker’s right to freedom of assembly, inflicting violence to striking workers, aggravate the already dismal human rights situation in the country, including the attacks on the Lumad people in Mindanao. These should all stop, and someone should be held accountable to all these violations to address the reign of impunity in our country,” she added.
EILER said among the trade union groups who signed the document are the Trade Union Confederation of the Philippines (TUCP), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).#