Updated December 9, 2010

                                                  Nolan Maquincio shows where he was stabbed in
                                                     a visit at Philippine General Hospital, Manila

Cavite, Philippines - As workers continue to struggle fighting for freedom of association to promote their rights and welfare, Nolan Maquincio, 45, Public Relations Officer of Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Hoffen Industries (United Workers of Hoffen Industries), a union under Olalia Federation (NMHI-OLALIA-KMU) was stabbed on his way home from work on November 22, 2010.

The Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) condemns this latest attack on a militant union leader. According to Merly Grafe, chair of the SCW, “the sign of continuing trade union repression in Cavite under President Aquino’s “straight road” slogan has started. Unfortunately, it happened days before the world commemorates the December 10 human rights day.

In an interview at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Maquincio related that his still unidentified attacker repeatedly took swings at him with a knife. One of the strokes went through his left rib while he sustained several cuts and bruises in other parts of the body from trying to deflect and dodge the stabbing. Maquincio said that a woman beside him was also stabbed as he was trying to avoid his attacker’s thrusts.

The incident happened while Maquincio was riding a jeepney from Hoffen Industries Corporation (HIC), a garments company located at Governors Drive, Paliparan, Dasmariñas, to his home in Gen. Mariano Alvarez (GMA), which is adjacent to Dasmariñas City.

“I was able to escape further injuries after I succeeded in kicking him out of the vehicle,” Maquincio narrated.

He added that he dismounted from the jeepney immediately as soon as his attacker rolled out and ran while covering his wound to stop the further bleeding and asked for help. When he managed to look back, he saw that his attacker was chasing him. After failing to get help from two vehicles to rush him to the hospital, a tricycle driver came to his aid when he pleaded.

He was rushed to a nearby community hospital and only received first aid. He was later transferred to Philippine General Hospital in Manila after a hospital in Trece Martirez City in Cavite refused to admit him due to lack of medical equipment necessary in treating him.

At the PGH, he underwent several tests and found that the knife punctured one of his lungs. The doctors had to insert a tube in his lungs to flush out blood and air.

Maquincio is now recuperating from his injuries at home although his colleagues were wary of his safety. “Right timing is what my attacker only needed to finish me off,” said Maquincio.

This was already the second attempt on the life of Maquincio. The first happened on September 2007 when a man in a ski mask slammed a rock at his head that left him unconscious. At the time, Maquincio and his group of several workers were starting to form a KMU-affiliated union. During the same time, the company was pushing hard for the formation of a Labor-Management Consultative Council as a countermove to thwart any attempt of Maquincio’s group to form a union. He sustained a five stitches wound just above his left eyebrow on that incident.

In recent months prior to the second attempt on his life, Maquincio said that he was approached by Philippine Alliance of Free Labor Union (PAFLU) union members to assist them legally in calling for a general election of officers in their union, which he heeded by conducting several meetings with them. The PAFLU members wanted a 100 percent change of leadership because their union officers allegedly are not serving the interests of the workers but of the management.

 Maquincio also used the meetings as his stage to assail the illegal subcontracting of jobs in Hoffen through three labor cooperatives acting as labor force supplier. He said that regular workers were easily losing their jobs to contract workers being supplied by CFM Multipurpose Cooperative, Brain Winner Cooperative, and GM’s Proserve Multipurpose Cooperative that has offices inside the Hoffen compound. From approximately 1,000 regular workers, Hoffen currently has 600 regular workers and 2,000 contract workers coming from these dubious labor cooperatives.

He is also vocal against the company’s campaign of encouraging the workers aged 40 years old and above to resign on a disgusting reason of “not anymore productive.”

Maquincio personally believed that the latest attempt on his life was due mainly to his involvement in the recently unfolding events inside the company.

Hoffen Industries Corporation is owned by Lawrence Ang also known as Lawrence Delos Santos who is also the president of the Confederation of Garments Exporters of the Philippines (CONGEP). CONGEP, incidentally, is an active proponent and lobbyist for the enactment of the Save Our Industries Act in the United States Congress.

The NMHI-Olalia-KMU endured numerous maneuvers from the Delos Santos- owned garments corporation against their bid in establishing a truly workers-represented union.  After the LMCC failed, the Hoffen Management tried to form a company union under the Alyansa ng Malayang Obrero (Alliance of Free Labor), but suddenly shifted its open support to a chartered local union of PAFLU in a representation election held in July 2008. The NMHI-Olalia-KMU lost its bid in the said election but continued to be vocal against anti-workers policies inside the company.

The PAFLU union, on the other hand, was formed with the help of the office of the former Governor Ireneo Maliksi, the implementor of the “No Union No Strike Policy” in the province and is now Cavite’s 3rd district representative in Congress.  Hoffen Management has a 5-year collective bargaining agreement with the PAFLU union, which the NMHI-Olalia-KMU assailed as a “sweetheart contract.”

Hoffen supplies pants, blouse, and jackets to known brands like AnnTaylor and Ralph Lauren which are both from the US. Its materials sources are from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Turkey and Portugal.

Recent data gathered by the Workers Assistance Center from Hoffen workers show that Mr. Lawrence de los Santos’s garment business is expanding in two provinces.  Aside from Hoffen Industries Corp., Hamlin Industrial Corp., and Providence Apparel International Mfg. Corp., a new plant in Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, the Reliance Apparel and Fashion Mfg. Corp., is now in operation.  Another plant in Batangas province is likely to operate soon. Other US buyers of Mr. de los Santos’s garment business include Phillips Van Heusen (IZOD, Calvin Klein, Arrow), New Balance, and Warnaco (Calvin Klein Jeans wear and underwear).