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The labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno is calling for the immediate release of two of its public sector union workers who were erroneously charged with trumped up allegations and accused of being members of the New People’s Army
Six months after two public sector union organizers were illegally arrested and imprisoned over trumped-up charges, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joined a picket in front of the Department of Justice in Manila to reiterate its call for their immediate release.
Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, staff of government employees’ group Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees or Courage, were illegally arrested and detained last Dec. 3 over charges related to an ambush carried out against the military by the New People’s Army in April 29, 2012 in Labo, Camarines Norte.
The witness in the case, who also charged Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara – chairperson and deputy secretary-general of KMU-National Capital Region, respectively – made the absurd claim that each of those responsible for the ambush shouted his or her full name before firing his or her gun.
The same witness alleged that those responsible for the ambush in Camarines Norte are also responsible for another ambush in Ifugao province which happened just a few days after the Camarines Norte ambush was carried out.
“Randy and Raul should be set free immediately and unconditionally. The political harassment being inflicted on them should be stopped now. They should not stay in their prison cells any longer,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
“Randy and Raul, as well as Roy and Amelita, are unionists, not NPA members. It is disgusting that for the Aquino government and the military, no such distinction exists,” he added.
“Our comrades are not guilty of any crime. We are indignant that the Aquino government and the military treat genuine, militant and nationalist unionism a crime punishable with abduction and illegal detention,” he said.
KMU also dared the International Labor Organization, which has Convention 151 concerning the “protection of the right to organize and procedures for determining conditions of employment in the public service” to speak up for Vegas and Camposano’s immediate release.
“We challenge the ILO to speak up for the immediate release of these public sector unionists. We are also calling on all unionists all over the world, whether in the public or the private sector, to step up the campaign for Vegas and Camposano’s release,” Ustarez said.
“We condemn the Aquino government for continuing the Arroyo government’s campaign of criminalizing unionism in the country. The country may have just finished another election but martial-law tactics are still being used against unionists,” he added.