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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Police break up picket outside Coke

POLICEMEN broke up a picket and arrested 10 protesters in front of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. on Mc Arthur Highway, Barangay Bago Aplaya, Davao City, for blocking the company trucks and not allowing these to pass through.

In a spot report from Talomo Police Station 3, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson Police Senior Inspector Ma. Teresita Gaspan said the 10 arrested protesters were subjected to inquest proceedings for grave coercion and violation of article 151 or the Resistance and Disobedience to a person in authority.

Initially, the Talomo police station received an information around 5:50 a.m. from the security personnel of Coca Cola Femsa that a rally was being conducted by former workers assigned as delivery sales assistant of the company outside their establishment.

Based on the report, the workers were under the Work Expert Agency and led by a certain Jorma Bantayan alias Ting of Kilusang Maggagawa ng Coca-Cola (Kimaco).

Responding to the report, duty officers of the police station led by Police Chief Inspector Ronal Lao, together with Special Weapons and Tactics team and City Peace and Security Company (CPSC), went to the areas and based on their initial investigation, the workers were supported by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) organization with KMU representative identified as Bobby Pablo.

"The group assembled and staged a protest action regarding the change of workers under work expert agency to newly hired BMPC Agency or B-Mirk Multipurpose Cooperative. Said protesters illegally blocked the two gates refusing the truck to get out of the premise," the police report said.

Despite an attempt to peacefully settle the dispute, the protesters allegedly refused to cooperate with the peace officers and even became aggressive, putting up a blockade on the gates of Femsa, impeding the movement of products.

"[They] resisted and disobeyed from responding peace officers which resulted to arrest of some workers or protesters and now under the custody of this office for proper disposition," the report added.

Arrested were Renaldo Amani, 24; Michael Ulan-ulan, 22; Bryan Falera, 22; Ricardo Sales, 36; Romel Calacat, 29; Antony Bayawan, 22; Jessie Montecillo, 29; Alvin Buccat, 29; Sustines Bantayan, 45; and Ian Debalde, 24.

With the tension between the protesters and security forces, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio reminded demonstrators to adhere to the law or face charges.

"The Davao City Government respects the right of its people to protest and it has not shown hostility to groups expressing dissent, even allowing them to take their actions to the streets and air their voices in public - even during these days when the city is under Martial Law," Duterte-Carpio said in a statement.

She said that while she respects the rights to freedom of expression, it does not give them the liberty to break the law, and thus she reminded those who might conduct protests in the future to not block the entrance and exit of establishments, not to harass non-protesting employees and pedestrians, and not to cause traffic to motorists.

There is already a standing order for police and the military to always observe maximum tolerance in dealing with protesters and avoid the escalation of violence, she said. Despite these rules set, the rallyists showed restraint to negotiate with the authorities.

"The protest has already compromised public interest. The protesters also ignored efforts to negotiate peacefully," she said.

"Please note that while protesters can exercise their freedom to demonstrate, this does not give them the free pass to break laws and expect to just walk away from it," she said.

The mayor also said that the arrested protesters "will be facing appropriate criminal charges in court."
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