Workers and relatives determined to find abducted labor leader, continue search in Southern Luzon Command military camp

The workers under the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU), together with abducted labor leader Benjamen Villeno’s family, continued their search in Quezon province military camps today.  Despite torrential rains, the group trooped to Quezon province in search of Villeno who was declared missing since August 27.

Despite continuous rains, workers from Honda Cars Philippines and other factories, together with KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog, trooped to Quezon province today to continue their search for abducted labor leader Benjamen Villeno.

The group has been searching for their missing leader since last week but to no avail.

“We have tried searching in military and police camps in Laguna, as well as in metro manila, but to no avail. Nonetheless, we are determined to continue searching for Ka Ben. We are very certain that the military is accountable for his enforced disappearance because his last text message said that he was being followed by suspected military agents.” Romeo Legaspi, union president of Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda (LMNH-OLALIA-KMU) and national vice president of OLALIA-KMU said.

“The other day, September 24, we were able to reach various camps in metro manila, such as the Fort Bonifacio where military officials refused to entertain us, and prevented us from entering the premises of the Intelligence Security Group and other facilities where Ka Ben may be illegally withheld.” Legaspi added.

KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog, which has been leading the search since day 1, is likewise affirmative that the military has something to do with Villeno’s disappearance.

“Benjamen Villeno is a known leader and organizer of trade unions, and has been a target of surveillance and intimidation for the past few years. As former national president of OLALIA-KMU, former chairperson of PAMANTIK-KMU, former regional coordinator of BAYAN MUNA and Makabayan coalition in southern tagalog, and a present trade union organizer, Ka Ben is obviously a critic of the corrupt and puppet government and thus very vulnerable to human rights violations.” KARAPATAN-ST secretary-general Glen Malabanan said.

Ka Ben’s case is the third case of enforced disappearance in the region under the Aquino administration. Other human rights violations, such as filing of criminal charges against activists, and political killings continue, as well.

“This further exposes the Aquino administration as no less than his condemned predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who, when bombarded with anomalies, used the military to silence activists and critics.” Said Legaspi.

“The workers of southern tagalog are determined to use all means possible just to find Ka Ben.” Ended Legaspi.

An online petition has been launched by PAMANTIK-KMU, and has reached concerned activists and citizens here and abroad.

On September 25, workers under the Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda (LMNH) launched a motorcade and protest action in Balibago to condemn the abduction of Villeno.###

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