Falsely Charged Labor Leaders plea for investigation, cries for due process

March 15, 2013

Falsely charged labor leaders sought court intervention to drop counts of criminal charges by members of AFP in a preliminary hearing last March 7 in Labo, Camariners Norte Regional Trial Court.

In their pleading, abducted and detained Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, both labor leaders and members Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), together with Amelita Baravante and Roy Velez of Kilusang Mayo Uno, cited prosecutors’ arbitrary proceedings that violate their right to due process.

Prosecutors did not oppose motions to conduct investigation but slammed their motion to quash information and warrant of arrest, which will supposedly release the two detained leaders and drop charges against the two others if approved.

The labor leader’s motion, now submitted for resolution to judge, and will be decided after 30 days.

On December last year, charges of murder linking to twp New People’s Army (NPA) operations in the 49th IB detachment in Camarines Norte and another in Ifugao were slapped against the four labor leaders together with 26 other individuals. These charges became known to the leaders’ relatives days after the abduction of Vegas and Camposano by military agents in two separate locations in Metro Manila. Vegas and Camposano were subsequently detained in Daet District Jail in Camarines Norte.

“No subpoena nor any notice was sent to sent to the them during the preliminary investigation which clearly violates their right to due process. But beyond that, this increasing trend of filing of false charges against trade unionists which is even more alarming as it attacks their right and freedom to unionize,” said Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation.

Charges were filed by main complainant P/ C Insp. Weneco Fuentes of Camarines Norte CIDG backed by the testimonies of members of the 49th IB and intelligence asset who identifies the accused based on his alleged “records”.

Research from labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, showed that malicious or trumped up criminal charges against labor leaders and workers, mostly unionists, has more than doubled from an average of 42 individuals charged per year between 2004-2009 to an average of 90 individuals every year between 2010 to 2012. (See link)

“To a large extent, this rise in malicious filing of criminal charges against unionists, not to mention other forms of human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, can be attributed to the government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan,” Hernando said.

CTUHR called on to the Aquino administration to drop false charges against unionists and comply with the recommendations of the International Labor Organization (ILO) following ILO’s High Level Mission in 2009.

CTUHR also appealed to the public to urge the government to end oppressive policies such as Oplan Bayanihan. “Counter insurgency programs of past governments have cost many lives and have highly-compromised our freedoms and rights. We are challenged to unite against Op Bay and press the Aquino administration to live up to its promise of straight path and bring an end to human rights violations.” Hernando added.###