Labor rights group Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) vehemently denounces the violent dispersal thatinjured more than 30 persons and illegal arrest of 19 workers and supporters of NutriAsia in Marilao, Bulacan on July 30, 2018.  CTUHR decries the consistent denial of NutriAsia that the striking workers were not theirs and of their sub-contractor when it is apparent that it was the sweat and blood of the workers that built the company’s empire.

The dispersal happened when the combined elements of the Bulacan Philippine National Police (PNP), hired security guards and goons of NutriAsia attacked the workers’ picketline, while the union leaders were in a negotiation with the management at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in Quezon city.  This only proved that NutriAsia is able to wield its powers over government forces and court to rid its company with union members and protesting workers. The government knows fully well that NutriAsia violated several laws. Union-busting is illegal and yet, it kept mum and tolerated the strings of violations that NutriAsia had practiced for many years.

Several were injured including Leticia Retiza, 56, whose bloodied photo went viral in social media last night. She was one of the supporters of the workers’ strike. She was severely injured after being hit by a huge rock on the face. Twenty nine others sustained injuries in different parts of their bodies, and some are still in the hospital.

Nineteen (19) workers and supporters were arrested including members of the alternative media.

  1. Daisy Jane Heda,20 – Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Nutriasia (NMN)
  2. Robert Sequino,23 – NMN
  3. Sedney Villamor,31 – NMN
  4. Jerald Verano,26 – NMN
  5. Mark Ponce,31 – NMN
  6. Dannyboy Conel,21 – NMN
  7. Marylle Jons Peligro,23 – NMN
  8. Jeovelyn Bornales,33 – NMN
  9. Einstein Recedes,33 – Anakbayan
  10. Mark Quinto,24 – League of Filipino Students
  11. Jon Bonofacio,20 – Scientia UP Diliman
  12. Avon Ang,23 – Altermidya
  13. Eric Tandoc,38 – Altermidya
  14. Hiyasmin Saturay,27 – Altermidya
  15. Psalty Caluza,20 – Altermidya
  16. Imelda Rey,57 – Kadamay
  17. Aileen Raganit,42 – Kadamay
  18. Nikki Abilar,29 – Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS)
  19. Jaime Castro,52 – National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)

CTUHR also expressed alarm over the PNP’s claims that they have found drugs and firearms from some of the workers and supporters. A certain Edwin Barena, allegedly carried drugs and firearms with him and was nabbed during the commotion. However, in today’s investigation, it was found out that the guy was already detained at Meycauyan jail since 2016 and was forced to pretend to have been in the strike and carried firearm and admit to using illegal drugs. This ploy is utterly desperate that it not only destroys the reputation of the strikers but even the already detained Barena.

This is a lame attempt to reaffirm the lies that NutriAsia management peddles that the commotion erupted when the workers and their supporters fired a shot in the air and hurled rocks at the police and guards. This adds insult to the workers who, for many years, have been mixing, bottling, packaging and shipping their well-patronized products – Datu Puti, Silver Swan, Mang Tomas, Jufran, UFC, Golden Fiesta and many others. “It is enraging how Campos is trying to trample on the dignity of the workers even more, by making them look like common criminals, when, in fact, they are just fighting for what they deserve,” Arago added.

“NutriAsia with its cohorts in the PNP are desperate enough to make up stories to justify the unjustifiable use of brute force against the workers and supporters, the illegal arrests and detention of 19. We fear for their safety.  Many had already fallen victim to the PNP tactics of ‘Tanim Bala’ and ‘Tanim Droga’ and now they even resort to ‘Tanim Suspek!’ We will not allow this to happen to the NutriAsia workers and supporters. We call on the public to raise their vigilance and support the NutriAsia workers’ strike,” Arago said.

The NutriAsia workers led and united by the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia (NMN) began their legitimate strike last June 2, when the NutriAsia, owned and managed by Campos (who also owns Del Monte Philippines), refused to regularize almost a thousand long-standing contractual workers despite a compliance order from DOLE. The illegal dismissal of 75 leaders and supporters of NMN also triggered the workers’ strike.

The NutriAsia19 were charged with illegal assembly, physical injuries, alarm and scandal and violation of RA 9165 (Dangerous Drugs) and RA 10591 (Firearms Law).

The Center joins the growing clamor for justice for the workers of NutriAsia, “We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the NutriAsia19. And we demand that the NutriAsia management and security forces and the Bulacan PNP be held accountable for the grave abuses and gross violation of human rights. We also challenge the Department on Labor and Employment (DOLE) to wake up and immediately act on this issue.”

“For several months, workers’  have been restless and unrest has erupted in different parts of the country, as Duterte failed on its promise to end contractualization. The Department Order 174 and Executive Order 51, appeared to have been utilized by corporations to retrench their workers, rather than to help them become regular. DOLE’s order to companies and employees of regularization and strong language against them and illegally contracted agencies remain a paper tiger. The laws apparently serve best thecapitalists, than the workers,” Arago ended.###