Members of the National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu)- Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) today stormed the main office of Globe Telecom in Mandaluyong City to condemn the continued illegal detention and call for the immediate release of Atty. Remigio D. Saladero Jr., a prominent labor lawyer, human rights advocate, and columnist.
Atty. Saladero, chief legal counsel of KMU, is unjustly accused of being a New People’s Army (NPA) look-out who participated in blowing up a Globe Telecom cell site in Lemery, Batangas last August 2008. Illegally arrested in his house last October 23, he is detained at the Calapan City Jail also for charges of murder and multiple frustrated murder for allegedly participating in an NPA ambush in March 2006. He is one of the 72 Southern Tagalog activists facing the same case. Six of them have been nabbed and are in jail.
“Atty. Saladero is taking care of 700 labor cases and regularly prepares pleadings and attends court hearings. He also writes a weekly column for Pinoy Weekly. It is absurd for anyone to claim that he is an NPA, along with other high-profile leaders of legal mass organizations. This is clearly political persecution consistent with the renewed rise of human rights violations under the Arroyo government,” said Wilson Baldonaza, KMU executive vice-president and co-chair of the newly formed Free Atty. Saladero et.al. Coalition.
The coalition is composed of workers federations, church groups, law students, and lawyers campaigning for the freedom of Atty. Saladero, who is a graduate of San Beda College of Law and placed #17 in the 1984 bar exams.
Meanwhile, Antonio Pascual, Naflu-KMU secretary-general, said that Globe Telecom “must distance itself from human rights violators like the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).” The Globe Telecom arson charges vs. Saladero is based on a lone witness, Arvin Leviste, who claims to be a deep penetration agent of the AFP. “Anyone can claim to be a DPA. But no one can claim to have their integrity vouched for by hundreds of workers.”
Among Atty. Saladero’s clients are Naflu-KMU-led unions of Dole Philippines, Pilipinas Palm Oil, Asahi Glass Corp., and Pascual Liner, whose members are grappling with issues of non-payment of wages, labor-only contracting, illegal retrenchment, and union-busting.
His wife Maricel Saladero and spokersperson of the Free Atty. Saladero et. al. Coalition said, “My husband, despite being a victim of Arroyo’s crackdown, continues to serve the poor and marginalized even behind bars. His inmates are lining up to get legal advice. But I am worried for his health and safety because he suffers from hypertension.”
Free Atty. Saladero et. al. Coalition is set to launch protest actions, a dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights, public fora, a benefit dinner, and other activities until Atty. Saladero and other Southern Tagalog activists are freed and their bogus cases junked.
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