We, PAMANTIK-KMU, the regional militant labor center in the Southern Tagalog region, express our highest condemnation on the presence of intelligence agents from state forces at the May 1 regional program in Crossing, Calamba.
Three intelligence agents from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines were caught by event marshals surveilling personalities and organizations that participated in the program last Sunday. As per protocol, they were immediately whisked away from the program and had their identifications verified. The agents, identified through their IDs, were Army Sgt. Jerome Estanes, Cpl. Jericho Estacio, and PO3 Joel Bathan – who was seen carrying a pistol.
According to witnesses, Bathan pulled out his gun in the early part of the program. However, the marshals were alert and deflected the pistol to prevent him inflicting serious injuries to anyone nearby. The ensuing scuffle for the gun ended with Bathan accidentally shooting himself in the foot.
The organizers’ medical teams quickly gave first aid to the wounded agent, while confirming his identity and reporting this heinous act and turning over his effects to the policemen stationed near the venue. He will be filed criminal and administrative cases for possible attempted murder.
The presence and activity of these intelligence agents was conducted as a citizens’ arrest for their blatant violation of human rights – as an active surveillance act to our labor leaders and to members of mass organizations present in the May 1 program. As outspoken critics of state neglect and impunity over the workers and the people, these activities by state forces have long been expected.
True enough, in many of our protest actions, intelligence agents have swarmed our ranks and took pictures, notes and identification of certain people and organizations, which threaten our freedom of expression and predate the possibility of abduction, illegal arrest, torture, and even murder.
The acts of state agents over the legitimate demands of the people, are products of their demonization and whitewashing over evident attacks on the workers’ and the people’s basic democratic rights. Just like the state’s fascist attacks on the Lumads and farmers of Mindanao, they have responded to the workers’ economic and political calls with reckless abandon.
Even in the Southern Tagalog region, workers were met with truncheons, rocks, ramming police cars and “warning shots” when they hold strikes in defense of their labor rights. The workers’ strikes in Nestlé, Philsteel, Tanduay and Karzai are concrete examples of such vehement responses to the workers’ demands.
We hold accountable BS Aquino as the prime director of the failed counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan, which has been outlined to take state violence into effect. In the six years of his administration, the true issues of the workers and the people has been put into the backseat and were shrugged off either as mere lies or propaganda.
This incident will be another one in BS Aquino’s Tomes of Neglect. We will never forget these incidents as the Massacre King steps down from office – and we shall ensure that justice shall be served to the workers and the people he has attacked and murdered many times over. #