Arrests of labor activists are ridiculous, aimed to sabotage workers –Canadian labor groups

Canadian labor unions representing some 1.5 million workers express alarm over the worsening labor rights situation in the Philippines, including the on-going crackdown against labor unions, formations and institutions. Saladero, who handles loads of labor cases, could impossibly attend court hearings; work as a columnist while performing duties in NPA armed activities. In addition, two of them are badly ill, one has polio since birth and the other is suffering from diabetes for years now, which makes them impossible to engage in armed conflicts that requires physical strength.

In spate of ‘legal offensives’ in the form of false criminal charges filed against 72 Southern Tagalog activists, largest Canadian labor groups conducted the “Canadian Trade Union Mission in the Philippines (CTUMP),” a weeklong investigation of labor rights situation in the country starting November 14.

The mission was composed of leaders from Public Service Alliance in Canada representing some 1.2 million workers, United Steelworkers representing some 270,000 workers, and Canadian Union of Postal Workers representing some 60,000 workers.

The mission had conducted investigations in Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas. It also visited urban poor areas in Metro Manila.

Based on initial report, it said that arrests against union leaders, including labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr., was ‘ridiculous’ when it found out that those already held in custody could have impossibly committed the crimes of arson, rebellion, murder and multiple frustrated murders on which they were charged.

For example, Atty. Saladero, who handles loads of labor cases, could impossibly attend court hearings; work as a columnist while performing duties in NPA armed activities. In addition, two of them are badly ill, one has polio since birth and the other is suffering from diabetes for years now, which makes them impossible to engage in armed conflicts that requires physical strength.

The mission also highly suspects that those legal offensives were just aimed to “sabotage the workers (activities) and try to instill fear among the people.”

The CTUMP is set to reveal its findings, conclusions, and recommendations on Tuesday, November 25. It will also hold a dialogue with Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila De Lima in the afternoon of the same day.

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