Military agents continue to harass labor activists—EILER

ANTIPOLO CITY, January 7, 2010—Agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and even the Philippine National Police (PNP) continue to harass labor activists and human rights workers, the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) revealed.

One instance of grave harassment even resulted to death of Danilo Belano, 59, a four-decade labor organizer of Kilusang Mayo Uno or KMU.

In a press statement, Lito Ustarez, vice chairperson of KMU said, Belano was accosted by alleged ISAFP agents, near his house forcing him to cooperate with them in spying against his colleagues in the labor movement. The incident happened on November 24, 2009.

Danilo Belano, 59, and an organizer for left-leaning labor center, Kilusang Mayo Uno was said to be tortured psychologically and physically that resulted to his cardiac arrest. He died in a hospital on November 25, 2009.

On November 25th, Belano’s family received a phone call, learning that he is already dead. The caller said that he died in a hospital due to multiple cardiac arrests.

However, upon reaching the hospital, the family saw Belano with bloated stomach, giving them doubts about the real cause of his death.

Meanwhile, an unidentified foreign labor rights’ advocate was repeatedly harassed and intimidated by allegedly Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) operatives while assisting the International Labor Organization (ILO) delegates on visit, here in Manila.

The foreign volunteer which EILER refused to identify was said to be surveyed four times, just several weeks before the ILO High Commission went to the Philippines to conduct a find-finding mission on alleged gross violations of workers’ rights in the country.

“In one incident, a police agent showed him his identification card and sidearm and placed a clutch bag on the volunteer’s lap containing spare bullets for the gun, maybe trying to frame him up,” says EILER Executive Director Joselito Natividad in a statement.

Following the incident is the taking of their picture, while eating in a restaurant in Quezon City. When confronted, the ‘photographer’ flashed his badge to the foreign volunteer and Natividad.

“He even showed us his gun, a .45 caliber pistol,” Natividad said.

“Apparently, it was an operation to intimidate the volunteer, and possibly also me for being conspicuous in labor-related activities. This contributes to a consistent pattern wherein the government seeks to create an impression within the international community of rectifying its previous repressive policies on labor, while actually intensifying these at the ground-level and through less conspicuous modes of implementation,” said Natividad. (