Friday, November 9, 2012

PALEA calls on Ramon Ang to drop charges against members

Press Release
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.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

PALEA slams arrest of another member

Press Release
November 8, 2012

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) condemned the arrest of another of its members as it planned protests at the airport area in response. PALEA member Esther Gonzaga was arrested yesterday around noon in Makati City and was granted temporary freedom by 6:30 pm after posting bail.

Gonzaga’s arrest follows the earlier apprehension of Romeo Sayas who was detained in Malvar, Batangas for several days before he was released on bail.  Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair declared that “The
harassment case of grave coercion was filed by the management of PAL against the PALEA 39 who valiantly defended the protest camp when it was attacked by hired goons on October 29, 2011.”

Aside from the case against the PALEA 39, there are two more criminal suits pending against union members due to the labor row. Rivera called on new PAL President Ramon Ang “to facilitate the resolution of the labor dispute by dropping the trumped up charges against our members which were filed under the old company management of Jaime Bautista.”

Gonzaga was arrested near her residence while attending a barangay meeting as she is a community leader. She is one of two women among the PALEA 39. PALEA believes that the warrants of arrest on the remaining 37 PALEA members may also be served in the coming days.

Rivera explained that as enunciated under DOJ Ministry Circular No. 15 (Series of 1982) and DOLE Order No. 40-G-03 (Series of 2010), no criminal information can be filed against workers without the required clearance from the DOLE. “Absent such clearance, the courts are mandated to dismiss the charges outright. Such a policy, started after the formal lifting of martial law, aims to resolve rather than aggravate labor disputes and regulate the proclivity of capitalists to engage in harassment suits against workers,” Rivera elaborated.

PALEA also lambasted Pasay Assistant City Prosecutor Orlando Mariano and Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Pasay MTC Branch 44 for finding probable cause and ordering the issuance of arrest warrants against 39 PALEA members. “These officers of the court not only defied labor statutes but infringed on our members right to due process, and thus deserve to face administrative charges,” Rivera insisted.

He also denounced PAL lawyer Atty. Santiago “Sonny” Quial for “legal machinations.” Quial is running for district representative in Pasay for the coming elections. “As many PALEA members are Pasay voters, we will make sure that a law breaker does not become a law maker,” Rivera claimed.