Friday, December 10, 2004

NR1125:Beltran slams labor repression in HLI

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release November 25 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Rep. Beltran slams DOLE role in labor repression and militarization of labor
disputes; submits affidavit against Sto. Tomas to Commission on

During today's Committee on Labor, Human Rights and Agrarian Reform joint
hearing on the Hacienda Luisita Massacre , Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
reiterated his call that Department of Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas be
immediately relieved of her post and charged for the death of workers during
the massacre that took place last November 16.

Beltran announced during the hearing that he was formally submitting to the
Commission on Appointments his opposition to the reappointment of Sto. Tomas to
the DOLE. He urged fellow solons to support his petition and also submit their
declarations of opposition to Sto. Tomas to the CA. He gave his a affidavit
of opposition to CA members Rep. Clavel Martinez and Rep. Prospero Pichay.

"The assumption of jurisdiction order (AJ) and its accompanying return-to-work
order labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas issued, as well as her order
deputizing the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) are at the core of the massacre. The Luisita Massacre
underscores Sto. Tomas' abuse of power and pro-employer bias. She is unfit for
public office," he said.

Beltran pointed out further that Sto. Tomas has issued numerous AJs that have
resulted to hundreds of cases of human rights violations of thousands of
workers exercising the legitimate rights to strike and protests against union
busting and other unfair labor practices. In the last four years beginning
January 20, 2001, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) has
documented 86 assaults on picketlines and worker protests involving the PNP
(including the Regional Special Action Forces and the SWAT) , the AFP, and
company-hired goons and private guards.

Beltran urged the Committee on Labor to make official its stand that the strike
called by the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and the Central Azucarera de
Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) in protest against retrechment, union, busting,
collective bargaining agreement (CBA) deadlock as well as the refusal of the
Cojuangco management to turn over the land to the tillers as they should have
under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) is legitimate.

He also slammed the spokespersons of the AFP and PNP when they tried to
discredit the strike by saying that there were members of militant groups
there, as well as members of the New People's Army. "The workers and
farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita are bonafide members of Anakpawis and Bayan
Muna. As for the NPA, if there were any NPA there then surely, the casualties
would have been on the side of the police and military and not the strikers,"
he said.

"It was Sto. Tomas who was out of line, and she should be charged along with the
officers and members of the PNP and AFP. labor repression has been part of the
government's counter-insurgency program, and as evidenced by her role in the
Luisita Masaacre, Sto. Tomas is one of the most efficient henchmen in this
campaign. Beltran said that for instance, the entire Southern Tagalog is a
laboratory for the AFP. Filipino troops regularly conduct military operations
in ST. During strikes, workers' are forced to contend with the interference of
Regional Special Action Forces (RSAF) or the SWAT. There are also reports that
the military observes, spies on and harasses union officers and labor
organizers. #


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