Reference: REV. FR. JOSE DIZON
WAC Executive Director
Tel No.: (+63-46)-8840076

“Outrageous and a blatant lie” is how the Workers Assistance Center described the charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder against Emmanuel Asuncion, a member of its Board of Trustees and known labor leader in the province of Cavite, along with several other personalities of people’s organizations.

Asuncion is among the 72 accused who were ordered arrested on October 3, 2008 by Judge Tomas Leynes of the Calapan City Regional Trial Court in Mindoro Oriental based on an amended information filed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in relation to a March 3, 2006 assault on elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. The amended information substituted the “John Does” in an earlier information with names of leaders and members of progressive organizations.


“This trend of criminalizing those who dissent is a deceptive but brutal method of the Arroyo government to instill fear among the citizenry and stifle protests against this corrupt and immoral regime,” said Rev. Fr. Jose Dizon, WAC executive director. “It deceitfully exudes a semblance of legal and judicial processes but in fact shortcuts them to viciously attack democratic rights and banish popular leaders to waste away in jail.”

“Fabricated and Baseless”

In a telephone interview, Asuncion denounced the charges as fabricated and baseless adding that “ni hindi nga ako binigyan ng pagkakataong pasinungalingan ang mga bintang sa akin...” (I was not even given a change to refute the charges against me), referring to the judicial process of preliminary investigation. “... E, di sana, nasabi ko sa kanilang hindi pa nga ako nakakarating ng Mindoro sa tanang buhay ko!” (...then I could have told them that I have never, in my life, set foot in Mindoro).

Asuncion is a prominent labor and multi-sectoral leader in Cavite. He was the chairperson of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) until 2004, its spokesperson until 2007 and was elected as a member of its Council until 2010. In 2004, he ran for Rosario municipal councilor under the ticket of now Mayor Jose “Nonong” Ricafrente, with whom he retains a close association as a municipal leader. He is the current municipal coordinator of Bayan Muna (County First) Party of Rosario, Cavite. He also remains the Vice Chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Cavite.

Of the six already arrested and detained at the Provincial Jail in Calapan, three are connected to the labor movement, namely Atty. Remigio Saladero, counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement); Emmanuel Dionida, executive director of Laguna-based Labor Education Advocacy Development Research Services, Inc. (LEADERS); and, Arnie Seminiano, member of Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM, Enlightment and Solidarity of Workers).

The other maliciously charged activists involved in the labor movement in the Calabarzon Region include:
• Romeo Legaspi, chairperson of Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Alliance of Workers in Southern Tagalog) affiliated with the Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU) and national president of Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA-KMU)
• Jojo Bernardino, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance) Laguna chapter and secretary general of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA, Labor Alliance in Laguna Province)
• Luz Baculo, secretary general of PAMANTIK-KMU and national council member of KMU
• Rolando Mingo, president of Southern Tagalog Region Transport Sector Organization (STARTER)
• Lucio Amarante, staff and organizer of STARTER-PISTON
• Henry Halawig, paralegal staff of the Banzuela Law Office and former member of the Board of Directors of OLALIA-KMU
• Garizaldy Constantino campaign officer of Anakpawis Party and former campaign officer of KMU; also, a labor leader of the union of Nestle Philippines.

Criminalizing Dissenters

The absurd filing of charges against the personalities of the people’s movement in the CALABARZON (IV-A) and National Capital Regions is the latest incident in a series of attacks on labor and people’s movement since GMA took office in 2001, according to Merly Grafe, Chairperson of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers, citing the killings and abduction of several prominent leaders in Cavite and Southern Tagalog. On October 3, 2006, WAC Chairman and Philippine Independent Church (PIC) Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento was murdered at his home in Tarlac. Leaders of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Emi-Yazaki (Worker’s Organization in Emi-Yazaki) Buth Servida was killed and Joel Sales was wounded in front of the company in Imus, Cavite on December 11, 2006 while Gerardo Cristobal, former president of the EMI-Yazaki union, was assassinated in an ambush on March 10, 2008 after several prior attempts on his life. Grafe, likewise, cited the assassination of Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, president of the labor union in Nestle Philippines in Cabuyao, Laguna, on September 22, 2005.

“Hindi na rin bago ang pagsasampa ng sakdal laban sa mga lider ng progresibong kilusan... bagama’t kapansin-pansing nito lamang ay sunud-sunod ito...” (The filing of [criminal] charges against the leaders of the progressive movement is not something new... although it has become noticeably frequent lately...), Grafe said. On August 30, 2008, nine peasant leaders and activists were abducted by PNP operatives in Silang, Cavite and subsequently charged with illegal possession of firearms while 27 leaders and activists in the Calabarzon Region were charged with arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion on August 15, 2008 at the Batangas City Prosecutors Office. Prior to that, PNP abducted three peasant leaders and activists in Tagaytay City and illegally detained them from April 28, 2006 to August 28, 2008 on charges of rebellion, only to be acquitted after 28 months of imprisonment.

Grafe pointed out that this latest wave of attacks of the Arroyo government on progressive and militant organizations in Southern Tagalog is creating a very dangerous trend against human rights. The “John and Jane Does” in archived cases of alleged NPA rebels are being substituted to put activists behind bars on non-bailable offenses without benefit of preliminary investigation.

Father Dizon said, “this is nothing but plain and simple suppression with pseudo-judicial maneuverings. The GMA regime deceitfully wanted to project that the judicial processes are working in the country while it viciously attacks and crushes dissent and demands for popular and democratic reforms.”

Related Articles:

Urgent Appeal for Manny Asuncion
Stop the Criminalization of Southern Tagalog Political Activists
AHRC Statement