Philippines: State Terrorism Against Trade Unions

Three years and four months since he was taken by soldiers at gunpoint based on a warrant of arrest that did not match his name, KMU National Council member and regional coordinator of Anakpawis Partylist Vincent ‘Bebot’ Borja languishes in a congested Tacloban City jail up to this day.

According to the KMU (May First Movement), Borja, 40, has now lost half his weight since he was “illegally” arrested and jailed. Imprisoned at Leyte’s provincial jail, Borja shares a detention cell with 40 to 50 other prisoners, with prison food from a meagre PhP30 a day (US$0.21 per meal) budget and recorded frequent prisoner deaths due to diseases contracted in jail, like tuberculosis.

Bebot Borja is charged with murder and rebellion, but the sole witness to his case has been a no-show in court hearings up to now. His legal defence team complained that for the first two years of Borja’s imprisonment no court hearings had pushed through. On his third year in prison some of the scheduled court hearings did push through but the alleged witness to his supposed crime still did not turn up.

Bebot Borja is a “victim of the US-Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime’s war against militant trade unionism,” said the KMU in a statement posted in the “Free Ka Bebot Borja” website. Under Arroyo, some 93 labour leaders and advocates were extra-judicially killed, under the counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) which lumps legal progressive activists together with armed revolutionaries and considers them as “targets for neutralization.”

The labour center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has been specifically targeted in OBL, being labeled as a “front organization” of the Communist Party of the Philippines / New Peoples Army. Most of the 93 extra-judicially killed from the labour sector under Arroyo were KMU leaders, organizers and activists. Many have also reportedly fallen victim to enforced disappearances.

Marya Salamat


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: