The militant workers of the Southern Tagalog region, under the banner of the regional labor center PAMANTIK-KMU, mourn the death of Doris Cuario, a most esteemed labor leader and human rights defender in the region. She died from complications stemming from her long and arduous fight against leukemia last June 23.
We remember her for being a staunch advocate of genuine, militant and anti-imperialist unionism. Being at the forefront of workers’ struggles in the 1980s, she was one of the leaders of the workers’ union in Asia Textiles, a textile factory at San Cristobal in Laguna.
Through her efforts in the advancement of the workers’ struggle inside and outside of the factory, she then became a staff for the Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Pook Industriyal ng Laguna (ALMAPILA, or the Alliance of Workers in the Industrial Parks of Laguna). Here, she held up further the workers’ calls for favorable working conditions, freedom and democracy. She led one of the upsurges in workers’ protests in the province and the region.
It was also in this time that she chose to uphold human rights, not only for the thousands of workers but for all the oppressed and exploited. As Secretary-General of KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog, she became a staunch defender of people’s rights. She offered aid and assistance to those hurt and illegally detained on dispersals. She has stood guard for many political prisoners, and has vigorously stood for their release from the prisoners’ unjust conditions.
However, she was victimized by both physical and political terrors. She endured, and survived, an attack of leukemia, while hiding from the fascist clutches of the government as she was branded a terrorist and a criminal due to trumped-up charges against her and 71 other leaders of people’s organizations and formations in the Southern Tagalog region. Her long history of struggle and constant perseverance has let her prevail from both bouts.
It is through these that comrade Doris Cuario has offered his life: for the advancement and protection of people’s rights. She will be remembered and exemplified as one of the most sterling rights defenders and labor leaders in the region. She is a worthy example for many workers who have decided to change their dire situation and lead and deliver themselves and others into the path of liberation; as the spectre of contractual employment and ever-constant crisis victimizes the workers.
From Ka Doris’ trodden path, the broad masses of workers shall follow and live a life of servitude for the workers and the people; a life as heavy as the mountains of Sierra Madre. # # #