From: Links <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: BMP Philippines Alert 4
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 1996 20:07 AEST
The latest victims were 14 people -- 7 Filipinos, 6 Japanese and 1 Dutch national -- on a fact-finding mission on the families of farmers affected by the construction of the Yokohama Tire plant in Pampanga. They were detained for a few hours and were later on released without charges.
On November 18, nineteen activists were arrested by the Manila police while putting up anti-APEC posters and were charged with vandalism. On November 12, the head of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP or Solidarity of Filipino Workers) was arrested and is currently in detention. As of this writing, BMP Chair Filemon "Popoy" Lagman is on a 9th day of hunger strike to protest his detention.
The Philippine media reports a stepped up militarization of the country as the APEC festivities unfold. Ten thousand army soldiers, including a scout ranger company, a special forces company, two armored companies and three anti-riot companies, have been mobilized for the APEC meeting which will bring together more than 18 heads of state in the region, including U.S. President Bill Clinton, Indonesian dictator Suharto, and Malaysian strongman Mahathir. Twenty thousand more men, including army anti-terrorist units, are on standby. These are all geared up against the "potential threats" coming mainly from people's organizations planning industrial strikes and demonstrations opposing APEC.
Philippine President Fidel Ramos has also ordered a blacklist on some foreigners coming to the country for anti-APEC meeting. They included 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta who was able to send a woman representative to the meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Manila. President Ramos has warned foreigners that attending the protest actions amounted to "interference in the internal affairs of the country", the same pretext used by Malaysian authorities in disbanding the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor (APCET II) in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, demand for the release of BMP leader Popoy Lagman is escalating daily. The Philippine media called it "strike notices galore" as unions in 200 companies throughout the country filed strike notices simultaneously last Tuesday to press for Lagman's release. These unions represent around 130,000 workers mostly from manufacturing firms.
Aside from the BMP unions, the pilots' union at Philippine Airlines and the employees' union at Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) have also joined the filing of strike notices.
Department of Labor Secretary Quisumbing said the planned strike is illegal. He vowed to assume jurisdiction of all strike notices (which technically means stopping the strike actions) before the November 25 APEC summit.
Lagman was hauled to a court hearing last Tuesday. A trumped-up charge, involving the murder of a policeman in 1992, was filed against him. Lagman -- who was on his 6th day of hunger strike that time -- appeared pale and weak but managed to read a statement to the media reporters covering the case (see BMP Alert 3).
Labor organizations belonging to the BMP, NCL (National Confederation of Labor) and the KPUP (Fraternity of Union Presidents in the Philippines) opened the Labor Congress on November 20 with more than a thousand union presidents in attendance. Six foreign delegation, including from the PRD (People's Democratic Party) and PPBI (Indonesian Center for Labor Struggle), the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, the international building workers' federation, and the Japanese unions, graced the congress.
The two-days Labor Congress, which will be followed by another two- days International Solidarity Forum, focussed on the adverse effects of globalization among the workers. Lagman also released a handwritten statement from jail which was read at the congress.
Lagman's statement called on the Philippine government to immediately address the problem spawned by globalization by amending the Labor Code and instituting laws that will protect the workers. Lagman's demand coincided with the proposals released by another labor center, the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), which has taken up Lagman's call towards unity of the fragmented Philippine unions.
Lagman also called on the Philippine labor unions to link up with international labor groups to help address the problems spawned by trade liberalization. The BMP aims to achieve this by preparing another labor forum to coincide with the next APEC meeting in Canada in 1997.
Greetings to the SLAM APEC Congress and statements urging for the release of BMP chair Popoy Lagman are coming in. The international office of BMP in Sydney, Australia has received copies of the following (aside from those previously mentioned in the BMP Alert): from the chair of the Affirmative Action, the Oakland/East Bay National Organization for Women and Solidarity in the United States; from the political bureau of the Socialist Workers Party (Dutch section of the Fourth International); and from the Herri Batasuna in the Basque Country.
Please continue sending messages either direct in the Philippines or in the Sydney office.
The international office of BMP calls on all unions and workers' groups to link up with their counterpart organizations in the Philippines. In this age of "globalization", when the transnational corporations (TNCs) and the major industrial powers are trying to subdivide the workers and weaken the trade unions, the most effective response is for trade unions and workers' organizations everywhere to close ranks and strengthen international cooperation.
You can write us at the address below with information about your unions and we shall forward your message to your counterpart unions in the Philippines.
International Officer, BMP
23 Abercrombie St., Chippendale
NSW 2007, Australia
Phone (02) 9690-1230