The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) condemned the arrest of 20 rallyists who assembled at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City this morning. Police arrested 8 miners from Carmen Copper in Toledo and 12 fishers from Talisay City on alleged violation of quarantine protocols. “The government is using covid-19 as an alibi to suppress the right to peaceful assembly of workers who are airing their demands on Labor Day,” asserted Dennis Derige, spokesperson for PM-Cebu.
A third group of rallyists who were workers in the Mactan Economic Zone and other factories together with student supporters were finally able to hold a short program at Plaza Independencia. All three groups, who are affiliates of PM and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), were supposed to commemorate Labor Day by marching around Cebu City. The arrests effectively scuttled the Labor Day plans of workers in Cebu City.
“Today’s arrests reveals the impunity of police against workers who are suffering under the economic crisis that has been spawned by the failed covid response of the Duterte administration. Similarly, the commemoration of Bonifacio Day was marred by the arrest of five union organizers who led a workers protests against mass layoffs in the Mactan ecozone. Covid is being weaponized against workers who are fighting for their rights and welfare,” stated Derige.
The workers in Cebu and in other major cities nationwide were to commemorate Labor Day with the theme “Tabakk ng Manggagawa Laban sa Palpak.” “Tabakk stands for Trabaho, Ayuda, Bakuna, Karapatan at Kasarinlan which are the key demands of workers in response to the economic crisis and the covid pandemic,” explained Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.
He added that “However, workers are also raising the political call ‘Palpak, Palitan.’ This means we are calling on the people to replace the inutile and authoritarian government with a new one which will respect political rights and respond to workers’ demand for social and economic reform.”
In Metro Manila, PM, SENTRO and other groups in the Nagkaisa labor coalition held a motorcade from the ABS-CBN headquarters to the People Power Monument to Mendiola and finally at Liwasang Bonifacio.
As of the time of writing, the release of the 20 rallyists in Cebu have been put on hold by the police despite the payment of fines for each of the workers arrested.
Photos can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/partidomanggagawa/posts/10159032773159323
May 1, 2021