By Junex Doronio
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu — Ironic as it seems but workers marching on Bonifacio Day to celebrate the birthday of Gat. Andres Bonifacio who symbolizes the working-class in the country were blocked by police who eventually arrested five laborers, three of whom are still languishing in jail.
“The unfortunate incident that happened yesterday (Monday, 30 November 2020) commemorating Bonifacio Day is totally unacceptable. We call on the Lapu-Lapu City government to immediately act and release the arrested workers,” Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino — Cebu Chapter (BMP-Cebu) spokesman Teodorico Duran Navea said on Tuesday, December 1.
Navea said police arrested on Monday five individuals who joined the march rally to denounce the “illegal retrenchment” of thousands of workers of Mactan Export Processing Zone Authority (MEPZA) and brought to Barangay Pusok police station.
Later in the day, three of them were transferred to the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial facility in the public market of Barangay Poblacion while the other two who were union leaders of First Glory Apparel were released after paying some fine.
Navea identified the three who are still detained as Dennis Derige, Joksan Branzuela and Jonel Labrador, all members of Partidong Manggagawa — Cebu. They were slapped with resisting arrest charges.
The BMP-Cebu spokesman said that as early as 9 a.m. Monday, November 30, workers belonging to Mactan Export Processing Zone Alliance held a march rally outside the premises of MEPZA on the occasion of Bonifacio Day.
They aired the issues of concern for the retrenched MEPZA workers amid the pandemic.
At around 9:30 a.m, members of Pusok Police Station blocked the rallyists’ march along M.L. Quezon National Highway.
Navea claimed that the leaders of the march rally negotiated with the police to allow them to hold a short program but the police arrested the five workers.
“The illegal act is reminiscent of previous cases where union leaders and supporters are being harassed using trumped up charges to malign activists and members of civil society organizations,” Navea said.
He lamented that the peaceful march rally commemorating the birth anniversary of the great Filipino working-class hero Andres Bonifacio was marred by the arrest of some workers.
“We must not condone any dastardly act perpetrated by members of local police forces who were supposed to protect and guarantee the rights of every citizen. The new normal phenomena will further subjugate the workers to intense repression and harassments,” Navea said.Lapu-Lapu mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan has not yet acted on BMP-Cebu’s appeal as of this posting. (AI/MTVN)