Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Sunday blasted a food manufacturer for allegedly suppressing the rights of its protesting workers.
On Facebook, Sotto told snack maker Regent Foods Corp. that its relationship with the city government “will be at risk” if it does not drop charges it filed against workers who went on strike on November 9.
“These people are not criminals; they do not have the goal of hurting you. They are fighting for what they believe to be just. You can continue with the labor dispute without sending the poor and powerless to jail!” the mayor said in his FB post.
Sotto said Regent management “hired outside private security to disperse their employees on strike,” causing a scuffle between the firm’s guards and the protesters.
Twenty Regent workers, two members of the Defend Job Philippines group, and one tricycle driver, who Sotto said was only trying to see what was going on, were arrested.
Regent Foods Corp. has not issued a statement as of press time.
“I asked Regent to withdraw the charges against the 23. Mr. Irwin See and Ms. Susan See separately asked me to give them some time to ask their board,” Sotto said.
“Technically, the complaints were filed by the private security, but the management have admitted that they are behind the complaints,” he added.
The mayor said Regent told him on Saturday they would not be withdrawing the charges against the 23 individuals filed at a Pasig court.
Twelve out of the 23 arrested have posted bail, Sotto reported, including the tricycle driver. He also assured the 11 who remain jailed he will “personally make sure that they are out on bail by Monday.”
“As the Local Government, we cannot interfere with the labor issues at hand, as this is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Employment. However, when my constituents are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing,” Sotto said.
The names of those Regent charged, according to Defend Job Philippines, are:
1. Melanie dela Cruz
2. Laarni Gabriel
3. Enrico Ramos
4. Christopher Distor
5. Virulyn Vesuyan
6. Aileen Batanon
7. Alex Batso
8. Gemma Alvarez
9. Aldo Sanchez
10. Crisanta Lagrisola
11. Benjamin Israel
12. Arnel Ocampo
13. Edmund Timbal
14. Cyril Pumaren
15. Generoso Soliven
16. Christopher Arañas
17. Basilio Cudiamat
18. Romel Agcaoili
19. Antonio Regacho Jr
20. Bonifacio Ramirez
21. Gerardo Gaddi (Defend Job Philippines)
22. Carlo Levanta (Defend Job Philippines)
23. Ronald Montilla (tricycle driver)
Defend Job Philippines said on Sunday the workers will file countercharges against the illegal dispersal, as it came despite ongoing negotiations between union workers and the management at the National Labor Relations Commission and the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.