November 9, 2012
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) today called on new Philippine Airlines (PAL) President Ramon Ang to drop all charges against its members in order to facilitate a solution to the labor row. Last Wednesday a second PALEA member was arrested in Makati City while the first was detained for several days last October in Malvar, Batangas.
Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa, said that “We hold Mr. Ang to his commitment to Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo that he desires a just and mutually beneficial resolution of the dispute. Arresting PALEA members one by one in order to demoralize our determination to fight is contrary to the contents of Mr. Ang’s letter to Bishop Pabillo. We hope Mr. Ang realizes that for PAL to fly the flag proud it needs motivated regular workers not just brand new planes and a bigger airport.”
PALEA member Ether Gonzaga was served a warrant yesterday noon while attending a barangay meeting. Meanwhile Romeo Sayas was arrested in his hometown in Batangas. Gonzaga declared that “Our will to struggle against contractualization is strengthened not weakened by PAL’s trumped op charges. We will gladly eat harassment cases for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Gonzaga, aged 54, worked as catering coordinator at PAL for 20 years before being retrenched last year. A single parent to two sons, her job at PAL supported an extended family that included her 86-year old mother, a sister, two brothers and relatives in Iloilo.
Rivera insisted that “The arrest of Romeo and Esther are a travesty of justice. They should not have been arrested in the first place and the charges should have been dismissed outright.” He quoted the Department of Justice Ministry Circular No. 15 (Series of 1982) and the Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 40-G-03 (Series of 2010) that no criminal information can be filed against workers without the required clearance from the DOLE.
Sayas, Gonzaga and another 37 PALEA members were issued warrants of arrest by the Pasay City Municipal Trial Court branch 44 after finding probable cause to a grave coercion case filed by Philippine Airlines against workers who defended the protest camp when it was attacked by hired goons on October 29, 2011.
With the onset of the air travel peak season, Renato Magtubo, PM national chair, renewed the call of labor and church groups for the public to boycott PAL until the labor dispute is resolved and charges against PALEA members are dropped. “We ask OFW’s, balikbayans, students, workers and other travelers to book airlines other than PAL and Air Philippines as labor rights are being violated at the flag carrier,” he reiterated.
Rivera extolled Sayas as a “working class martyr.” “Sayas worked for 20 years as ramp equipment operator in the airport, at first as a contractual, and then he became a regular PAL employee but was finally retrenched for refusing to be outsourced. He has two children, and hails from a working class family—his brother is also a fighting PALEAn and their father formerly worked at PAL,” he stated.
PALEA lawyers have previously file a motion to quash or recall the arrest warrants Aside from the case against the PALEA 39, there are is another criminal suit and a separate civil suit pending against union members, all arising out of the labor row concerning outsourcing at PAL.