AUGUST 2, 2018 · PUBLIC
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Canada vehemently condemns the brutal dispersal of a peaceful mass action of NutriAsia workers and their supporters by the Philippine National Police (PNP) under the command of Bulacan Provincial Police Chief Chito Bersaluna and the company’s security personnel. The striking workers and their advocates were just concluding an ecumenical mass on the afternoon of July 30, 2018 at the company’s Marilao, Bulacan plant when the police and NutriAsia security forces started to violently disperse and forcibly arrest them. Scores were injured and 19 were arrested.
Workers, organized under the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia (NMN)-Marilao, had been on strike since June 2, 2018 demanding regularization of the workforce that the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) had already ordered in a memorandum earlier in February this year. They were also protesting the underpayment of basic wages, illegal dismissal of 50 workers and demanding an end to contractualization.
Peoples’ organizations and various groups from the media, church and the youth among others have been in solidarity with the workers since the strike began. Among the 19 arrested and incarcerated were Kadamay (urban poor organization) members Imelda Ray and Aileen Raganit, Anakbayan Secretary-General Einstein Recedes, journalists Hiyasmin Saturay and Eric Tandoc of Altermidya. The violent dispersal is an affront to the workers’ right to strike, to the right to peacefully assemble and to freedom of the press. It clearly marks the trend towards the intensified violation of people’s democratic rights by the US-backed Duterte regime in its drive to impose fascist dictatorial rule.
NutriAsia management claims a gunshot was fired from the workers’ ranks to cause panic. The PNP Bulacan filed trumped up charges such as violation of Batas Pambansa 880 (The Public Assembly Act of 1985), physical injuries, and alarm and scandal against the NutriAsia 19. All these, even as a jail inmate admitted at a hearing that he had been beaten up by police and forced to pretend to join the rally having in his possession a firearm and sachets of shabu. While all 19 have been released recently, and the charge of physical injuries has been dismissed, the charges of alarm and scandal, and illegal assembly against them remain.
BAYAN Canada is one with the NutriAsia workers and their advocates and reiterates their demand that the PNP and NutriAsia face accountability for their wanton violation of human rights — from the violent dispersal of the mass action by the PNP and NutriAsia, to NutriAsia’s flagrant refusal to recognize the legitimate rights of the workers to regular employment, decent wages and other benefits that they justly deserve.
Rhea A. Gamana
BAYAN Canada National Organizing Committee