Saturday, September 24, 2005

NR0923:On GMA's crackdown on protests

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release September 23, 2005

Solon says GMA crackdown against rallies will not stop them: the more she tries to impose political repression, the harder the people will fight back

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can talk tough and act tough all she wants, but it will do anything to settle the political crisis in her favor. If anything, Beltran said, her once-more rising arrogance and hardline stance against the exercise of civil liberties and democratic rights will fuel the protests against her. He called on all civil libertarians to unite in opposing the president's ban on protests on the grounds that it was a curtailment of civil liberties and demoratic rights -- the freedom of assembly, expression, and to express dissent and petition the government to address the people's grievances.

“All the more reason to demand her removal from Malacanang. Not only is she an illegitimate and corrupt president, she’s a human rights violator as well. Her giving the go-signal to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other armed forces of the government including the military to crack down on protests and protestors further exposes her desperation to cling to power. It also reveals the extent of her fear against the consistently growing public sentiment directed against her,” he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that Mrs. Arroyo’s justifications for calling for a crackdown on protests were transparently self-serving and hypocritical. When she was still vice-president and the protests were against then president Joseph Estrada, she did not make a peep; much less when masses of people were already gathering at EDSA and Mendiola. Now since the protests are directed against her, she’s anti-rally,” he pointed out.

“She wants to put a stop to the protests not so much because of the inconsequential traffic blockages these cause, but because the rallies expose how widely unpopular she is and how loud the public clamor is for her removal. She wants to assure the foreign creditors, inventors and God knows who else she and her anti-people government are beholden to that she is in charge and the crisis is over. We are out to prove her dead wrong.”

Labor leader shot and killed in Canlubang, Laguna

In the meantime, the activist lawmaker denounced the government anew saying that it is directly responsible for the brutal killing of labor leader Diosdado “Ding’ Fortuna.

Fortuna, 51, was shot dead at 6pm last night by unknown assailants in Canlubang, Laguna. He was the chairman of the labor federation PAMANTIK-KMU in Southern Tagalog; Anakpawis-ST chairman, a vice-chairperson of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers Rights (NCPWR) and the president of the union of Nestle workers in Canlubang.

He was shot twice in the chest and died on the spot.

Beltran said that Fortuna’s killing was politically motivated, and that even as investigations into the circumstance surrounding his brutal murder are underway, he expressed certainty that the perpetrators are either from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Southern Tagalog, the management of Nestle Philippines, or a coordinated effort of both parties. As chairman of Anakpawis National Political Party in Southern Tagalog, Fortuna was active in exposing the anti-worker policies of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration as implemented by the labor department under Patricia Sto. Tomas. He was also at the forefront of protests in Southern Tagalog demanding the pull-out of AFP troops from the region, and the removal of Macapagal-Arroyo from office. He was a union organizer, coordinating various factory unions all over the region including those in the export-processing zones.

“We demand justice for Ka Fort,” he said. “His murder shatters all illusions the government peddles that there is industrial peace in the country.” Beltran said that he is filing a resolution in Congress investigating the killing of the labor leader as well as paying tribute to his life.#


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