Drug war toll has ‘normalized’ killing
Sept. 23 was another sad day for human rights.
Edilberto Miralles, former union president of R&E Taxi, was gunned down in front of the National Labor Relations Commission (“Union leader slain in QC,” Metro, 9/24/16) by unidentified men riding tandem on a motorcycle.
Sentro is appalled by the continuing violence against members of the working class, and against the men and women who seek retribution, through legal means, for workers who have been wronged.
Miralles’ murder is at the least the seventh labor killing just in September this year.
At the start of the month, four farmers—Emerenciana Mercado-de la Cruz, Violeta Mercado-de Leon, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay—were taking a siesta at their nipa huts in a farm located inside Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija, when they were shot dead. The firearms used in the brutal slay were reportedly dropped from a helicopter hovering over the military camp. They were all members of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa, tilling part of the disputed 3,100 hectares of land inside Fort Magsaysay. Several others were wounded.
On Sept. 7, farm worker leader Ariel Diaz was shot to death by three men in his Villa Pereda farm in Delfin Albano, Isabela. Diaz was the chair of the Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela and the head of the provincial chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
In the early morning of Sept. 17, a labor organizer in Cebu who was vocal about his opposition to the administration’s war on illegal drugs, was killed in the same violent manner the drug war is being prosecuted. The very object of his criticism was used in his slay. For 15 years, Orlando Abangan, 38 years old, rallied workers to collectively fight for their rights. He was with Partido Manggagawa.
Today we forget the differences in labor alliances and together mourn their deaths.
We know the pain, courage and patience it takes to organize labor at a time when labor organizing is met with doubt as shown by dwindling labor union density, union/workers’ association membership, and the number of collective bargaining agreements. Yet, these are all necessary for the protection of decent work. Studies have shown that unions are strongly linked to fairer wages and better working conditions.
While the motives behind the killings are undetermined at this point, we condemn the culture of violence spread by the current spate of summary executions in the name of the so-called war on drugs. The ease by which men with evil intent can now kill is gut-wrenching.
We weep for the fatalities in this war. We condole with the kin of the slain labor leaders, who have chosen legitimate avenues to demand base level of respect for workers’ rights, no matter the long and arduous processes they had to endure.
Contrary to claims, the bloody war on drugs has not made our communities safe and free of crimes, it has instead normalized violence in our streets.
We, from the workers sector, no longer feel safe.
JOSUA MATA and NICE S. CORONACION, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, www.sentro.org
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