Labor group vows to defend harrassment vs activists

LABOR group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Southern Mindanao vowed to defend the escalating harassment of unionists and activists in Davao, viewed as part of a grand design to suppress the democratic mass movement all over the country.

Speaking in a press conference at Habana Compound on Rizal Street on Wednesday, KMU spokesperson Carlo Olalo said authorities filed trumped-up criminal charges against labor leaders and organizers of the people's organizations, and even threatened organizers of the progressive organizations the past four weeks.

Olalo said the recent incident was against Migrante organizer Cristy Balinawa who was allegedly tailed by policemen after the commotion at the UCCP Haran last July 23.

Balinawa was eventually threatened at gunpoint by unidentified policemen around 9 p.m. on Monday, he added.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Davao Region earlier filed charges against Jimboy Marciano, spokesperson of the Samahan ng Manggagawa Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon, Rey Fabe, former president of the RMN Davao Employees Union, and former Anakpawis Partylist Representative Joel Maglunsod.

Migrante Davao education officer Grace Gamalinda, and her daughter Arianne were also included, Olalo said, adding that they were charged for violation of serious illegal detention and trafficking, for accompanying almost 1,000 lumad evacuees in Davao City.

"The Aquino government is trying to impress upon activists who have been consistently protesting against oppressive and anti-people policies. But US-Aquino regime, in implementing the insidious Oplan Bayanihan, has used red-baiting, vilification campaigns against unions and workers associations," Olalo said.

Olalo said they already filed a formal complaint with the International Labor Organization against the government for various rights violations against labor leaders and unionists in the region. Among the violations, he added, were death threats and harassments incurred by the unionists and activists.

"The workers and the people will fight and resist these intensified attacks. We will never stop campaigning and standing with the workers and other marginalized sectors. The people have the right to protest and express their grievances. We will not relinquish this right despite the threats and harassments," Olalo said. (ICT)

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