Free our Unionists! Stop Persecution of Labor Leaders!

March 5, 2021

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) condemns the illegal arrest and filing of trumped up charges against two (2) unionists in Laguna, yesterday. The usual modus of early morning raids and tanim-ebidensya was again used in a recent attack against labor leaders. 

On March 3, 2021Arnedo Lagunias and Ramir Corcolon were arrested in separate raids in their respective homes, conducted by elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). They were served with search warrants issued by the same judge – Judge Divinagracia G. Bustos-Ongkeko from the Laguna Regional Trial Court and they are also slapped with the same allegation – illegal possession of firearms, specifically a rifle grenade. The two are currently detained at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.

“We call for the immediate release of Lagunias and Corcolon. The continuous attacks against unionists and labor rights defenders is highly alarming, especially as Courts are consistently being used to serve bogus search warrants to justify the tokhang-style arrests of activists and rights defenders,” CTUHR said in a statement.

Lagunias is a former union officer of Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda (LMNH-Naflu KMU) and Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Engklabo. Meanwhile, Corcolon is the Secretary General of Water System Employees Response (WATER) and a National Council member of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement  (COURAGE). 

According to PAMANTIK-KMU, Lagunias has been a subject of red-tagging and surveillance since last year, as SSgt. Romy Aragon, an AFP and NTF-ELCAC official visited his home in Brgy. Pulong, Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Corcolon, on the other hand, has been actively involved in campaigns against privatization of water districts and the promotion of government employees’ rights and welfare. 

CTUHR said that it has also received reports of other union leaders in Laguna who experienced interrogation, harassment and red-tagging from elements of NTF-ELCAC in the past few weeks.

“Enough is enough! Stop persecution of unionists! Workers and the people are already suffering from the dire impacts of the pandemic and the inept government pandemic response. These attacks against trade union and human rights and the continuously shrinking democratic space only aggravate the plight of the people. This kind of persecution does not invalidate the legitimate demands that these unionists represent,” CTUHR ended. ###