Words by Charleston Jr. Chang
Technol Eight Philippines Workers Union (TEPWU) leader Mario Fernandez falls victim to increased surveillance, stalking, and intimidation by unidentified armed men.
This happened while the union is anticipating its collective bargaining agreement talks with Technol Eight Philippines Corporation set to begin this month.
According to Defend TEPWU, last August 16, an unidentified armed man stood and lurked in front of the family’s home for a few minutes before throwing a plastic bag that contained money, a sim card, and a note. The note contained threats, instructions, and a number that a certain “Mario Ferndez” should call within three days.
TEPWU asserted that the harassment was an attempt by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which has been notorious for intimidating union leaders and progressives.
“Death threats always have a source, and TEPWU has all reason to believe that this is an attempt from the NTF-ELCAC to suppress our union’s efforts by targeting a union leader and his family,” TEPWU wrote.
On the same day, his family, who was at home when the incident happened, received a letter from their barangay captain stating that Fernandez should attend a dialogue with Task Force Ugnay.
“The letter demanded for Fernandez to attend a dialogue with TASK FORCE UGNAY at the barangay hall to discuss matters on Communist Terrorist Groups, its legal fronts, and their alliance with the worker sector to oppose the government,” TEPWU wrote.
Prior to receiving the death threat, Fernandez had already been subject to surveillance and other forms of harassment. Last August 12, elements of the NTF-ELCAC along with a barangay tanod went to Fernandez’s house.
“They pressured Fernandez’s wife and nephew to sign and receive a letter addressed to Fernandez from the NTF-ELCAC. The two vehemently refused but the Brgy. Tanod and the NTF-ELCAC asserted they would return,” Defend TEPWU said.
In a separate incident, Fernandez claimed that he saw a man tailing him after leaving for work at the Technol Eight Philippines Corporation factory in Biñan, Laguna.
Meanwhile, last June 13, Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA) said that three men who identified themselves as members of the NTF-ELCAC went to Technol Eight Philippines Corporation to find its union chairperson.
Similar to the harassment suffered by Fernandez, in March 2021, members of NTF-ELCAC personally approached the officials of Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union (WPPWU) at their homes, pushing them to disaffiliate from Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) (READ: Mga manggagawa ng Wyeth, nakaranas ng patuloy na pananakot mula sa NTF-ELCAC).
In August 2021, they also went to the residence of four Nexperia Philippines, Inc. union officers. These officers were asked to come to their respective barangay halls and were also forced to disaffiliate from KMU (READ: Nexperia union officers harassed by AFP-PNP and NTF-ELCAC, forced to disaffiliate from labor center).
Meanwhile, despite the harassment, TEPWU stood firm in asserting their rights as workers.
“TEPWU strongly condemns the aggression of NTF-ELCAC, the LGU, and Technol Eight against union leader Mario Fernandez and his family – treating him like a common criminal, threatening him, and violating the law. TEPWU will continue to assert our right as mandated by law and defend workers from the terrorism of the NTF-ELCAC,” the union wrote. [P]