Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Labor group to government: Is cruelty becoming a new normal?

The rise in the number of cases involving cruel treatment by security forces against violators of quarantine protocols has alarmed the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) which sees this pattern as tolerated impunity that is becoming a new normal.

“Can’t our security forces in dreadful military uniforms act humanely before their fellow humans? Have they been instructed to apply brute force against anyone they perceive to be pasaway? There must be a new culture for a new normal being created here for these inhumane actions to be tolerated,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

The labor group reminded the government that human rights and labor rights guaranteed by the Constitution have never been demolished by President Duterte’s emergency powers under the Bayanihan Act.

According to police reports, there are more than a hundred thousand ECQ violators who have been apprehended or arrested since the lockdown has been imposed.  The most recent among them were the Makati (Parras) and Quezon City (Ragos and a fish vendor) incidents that have gone viral in the social media. There was also a PUP student leader among them, Rexlon Aumentado, who was illegally detained for 3 days.

The group also cited the police dispersal of a workers’ picketline in Cavite during Black Friday night. Dasmarinas police who refused to give their names threatened two strikers—at the Sejung Apparel Inc. factory in the First Cavite Industrial Estate—with arrest for allegedly violating the quarantine rules. “Labor rights are not suspended during the ECQ and this incident breaks all the rules of engagement, especially the guidelines on the conduct of security personnel during labor disputes,” Magtubo insisted.

PM is concerned that had there been no anonymous people posting their videos of those incidents, these human rights violations in thousands of unreported circumstances will just go unnoticed and perpetrators go unpunished.

“Bakit ba naging habit na ang pananakit? Bakit ba mayroon nang nalikhang malaki at maliit, malupit at mahina dito sa paglaban sa Covid-19,” lamented Magtubo.

“Makataong Tugon Hindi Militarisasyon” is one of PM’s “Apat na Dapat” Labor Day demands. The other demands include “Ayudang Sapat Para sa Lahat”, “Balik Trabahong Ligtas”, and “Ayudang Lagpas sa Panahon ng Lockdown.”

The group is with Nagkaisa! labor coalition which, together with Kilusang Mayo Uno, will be holding home and community protest online on Labor Day.

29 April 2020

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