Confirming suspicions raised by labor center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) earlier today, the Philippine National Police (PNP) CALABARZON Regional Office presented to the media this afternoon 16 workers as “surrendered members of the CPP-NPA-NDF.”
In an alert earlier today, PAMANTIK-KMU revealed that a number of workers were picked up from their Sta. Rosa factory yesterday afternoon. The labor center suspected that the said workers will be presented as “rebel returnees.”
“Nababahala kami na gagamitin ang mga manggagawa upang palabasing “rebel returnees”, na pinangungunahan ng PNP at ni Rey Medellin, manggagawa ng Coke na tinalikuran ang kapwa manggagawa upang pagkakitaan at pigilan silang ibandila ang kanilang mga karapatan sa pagawaan,” PAMANTIK-KMU said in their statement before the program began.
Rey Medellin, according to the workers, was an asset of the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) actively cooperating to identify union leaders and pinpoint their homes.
By noon today, the PNP Police Regional Office 4A launched a presscon, showing 16 workers taking oath as they “surrender” to the police and military. The alleged surrenderees also presented revolver pistols.
When asked about incident, Dandy Miguel, Vice Chairperson of PAMANTIK-KMU explained that the surrender of the 16 workers was a lie, claiming that they were all legitimate workers of Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa and not revolutionary elements.
“Ang 16 na manggagawa na ‘di umano’y mga sumukong kasapi ng NPA ay isang kasinungalingan, dahil ang 16 na iyon ay lehitimong mga manggagawa ng Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa,” Miguel said.
Miguel also told Perspective that one of the workers who “surrendered” was Rafael Baylosis, a union leader who championed the strike at Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa in 2018. He explained that Baylosis was being targeted to be harassed and neutralized.
“Si Raffy ang isa sa nanguna sa welga bilang tagapangulo ng liga sa mga kontraktwal. Target ng mga kapitalista na mai-neutral siya nang sa ganun ay hindi magpatuloy ang pag-oorganisa sa iba pang manggagawang kontraktwal,” he said. “Dahil din sa pananakot ni Rey Medellin, na nagpunta sa bahay-bahay ng lider-manggagawa,isa si Raffy sa mga tinatarget upang takutin at harasin.”
Efforts by the PNP for a crackdown on Coca-Cola workers have worsened since January this year.
On April 23, nine workers were also picked up by the police and brought to Camp Macario Sakay, where they were interrogated and were promised regularization if they stop attending protests (READ: Nine Coca-Cola workers face harassment amid COVID-19 pandemic; workers alliance criticizes intimidation by state forces https://bit.ly/2YjULkF). The nine workers recognized Rey Medellin as they entered the camp.
The workers are members of the Ligang Pinalakas ng Manggagawa ng Coca-Cola Philippines (LPMCCFP), a chapter of Liga ng Manggagawa para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (LIGA) in Coca-Cola. LIGA is a regional organization of contractual workers advocating for regularization and just labor conditions.
Weeks before that, three to five individuals in civilian clothes visited the homes of workers who were members of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawang Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker sa Sta. Rosa Coca-Cola – Independent (UMDFPCC-Ind) on April 6, and were forcing them to surrender as rebel returnees under the Enhanced Community Livelihood Program (E-CLIP) of the Philippine government’s Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).
PAMANTIK-KMU credited these actions as a collaborated effort by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Coca-Cola management, who they claim to have violated several rights of their laborers.
“Isa na naman itong hungkag na akto ng kasinungalingan dulot ng National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict upang siraan ang mga lehitimong organisasyon at unyon. Kasabwat nila ang kapitalistang Coca-Cola, na kilala na sa matinding paglabag sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa sa buong mundo,” they said.
The NTF-ELCAC is a special task force organized by the Philippine government through Executive Order (EO) 70, aiming to purge the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) through a “whole-of-nation approach.”
The labor center then condemned the actions of the police and military for attempting to connect militant unionism with the revolutionary CPP-NPA-NDF. Miguel stressed the misdirected focus of the military and companies during the pandemic.
“Mariing kinukundina ng PAMANTIK-KMU ang harassment ng AFP-PNP kasabwat ang kapitalistang Coca-Cola. Imbes na pagtuunan ng mga military at kumpanya ang karaptan at kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa sa panahon ng CoVid-19 [nakatutok sila sa pangha-harass],” he said. [P]