Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 07:41:56 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Sam Lanfranco <lanfran@YORKU.CA>
Organization: DKProj
Subject: Union Leader Abducted in Philippines—Escapes

Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 12:17:06 +0800
From: Courage <>

Union president abducted by still unknown men

Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) press release, 18 September 1998

Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees
Advancing the Struggle for Genuine Public Sector Unionism
24, A. Cruz Street,
Grace Park, Caloocan City, Philippines
Telefax No. (63-2) 3664162

P. O. Box AC 84,
Araneta Center Post Office,
1135 Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

Ramon Baylon, president of Samahan ng mga Camineros sa Los Baños (SCLB), was abducted by six men in Los Baños, Laguna, at about 9 p.m. on September 14, 1998. While his abductors were not around, Baylon escaped in the morning of September 16,1998. Ramon was beaten while being kept without food for two nights in an abandoned warehouse in Barangay Putbo, Los Baños, Laguna. A young boy who happened to be gathering firewood in the area helped Ramon.

Ramon filed the following details of the incident to COURAGE after his escaped on September 16, 1998.

1. On September 14, 1998 at about 9 p.m., Mr. Baylon came from a union meeting and while waiting for a ride at Los Baños crossing a stainless owner type jeep with no plate number stopped and six men with short firearms tried to grab him but was able to run away towards Barangay San Antonio.

The men in the owner jeep pursued him until he reached an ally where he sought refuge. Since there were houses in the ally, the men did not follow.

After an hour, thinking that the unidentified men were gone, Ramon decided to come out. It was at this point that a man grabbed him by the arm.

He was then forced to ride on the owner type of jeep and blind-folded.

2. He was brought to an abandoned warehouse and was beaten with a piece of wood towards dawn. The men kept telling him Tumigil ka na and Manahimik ka na at kung hindi kami na ang magpapatahimik sa iyo while being beat-up in the lower part of his body.

The men left and returned the following morning. They did not beat him this time but was offered 2.5 (sic) if he will stop his activities.

The men left after that.

3. When he was sure that the men have left, he saw a piece of wood and banged the door continuously to attract attention.

At this point, a young boy who happened to be gathering firewood in the area heard the noise and approached the door.

They were able to open the door and escaped.

It was then that he learned that he is in Barangay Putbo. They passed through a forested area to avoid detection and was brought by the boy to their house were he was fed before he went home.

He arrived home at 11 a.m. on September 16, 1998. He proceeded to the police station at the town proper to report the incident before lunch time.

Upon advice from COURAGE, Ramon underwent a medical check-up yesterday, September 17, 1998. He remains fearing for his safety and those of other union officers and members.

The SCLB is the union of streetsweepers of the town of Los Baños, Laguna. They are locally called kamineros in Los Baños while their counterparts in Metro Manila are called Metro Aides. They are the one who tirelessly sweep the streets and disposed of our garbage everyday. They are among the lowest paid government workers nationwide, deprived of the basic right to security of tenure, and without benefits despite the hazards that they are exposed to as they perform their job daily without complaints.

Early this month the SCLB sought the help of COURAGE about their pay, status of employment and benefits. During their payday on August 15, 1998, they were surprised that they are to receive their pay equivalent to only five working days at PhP180.00 per day despite working for 15 days. The Mayor Francisco Lapis of Los Baños reappointed them as contractual only in August 10, 1998 after their previous contract ended on July 31, 1998.

According to the Mayor's Executive Assistant, they have to break the previous contract of the kamineros in order to avoid their becoming regular contractual employees. Those who were not reappointed were asked to resign despite being employed continually for years like Mr. Alpajanto, a kaminero, who had served for 12 years.

Furthermore, these streetsweepers, aside from not having security of tenure, they were not given the benefits which are authorized by law like 13th month pay and Christmas cash gift, clothing or uniform allowance, membership to the GSIS and Medicare. They are also required to procure their own materials and tools to perform their work.

We believe that the abduction of Ramon is related to the recent awakening of the streetsweepers to fight for their basic rights as government employees. The union membership underwent training on public sector unionism, which was conducted by COURAGE two days before the incident. As a matter of fact, they were already planning their set of actions to press for their rights. Thus, Ramon who is the president of SCLB, was subjected to harassment to discourage them in pursuing their protest actions. Ferdinand Gaite, COURAGE president said.

We hope that this type of human rights violation will not become a common tale in the ranks of public sector unionists especially the likes of streetsweepers under the employment of Local Government Units who are threatened to loss their jobs because of the withholding by the Estrada administration of the 10% of the Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) for LGUs. Because of this policy, the LGUs nationwide may cause the mass lay-off of about 120,000 contractual employees, Gaite explained.

We also challenge Mayor Lapis of Los Baños to immediately investigate and hold criminally responsible the perpetrators of the abduction of Ramon. As well as we call upon him to recognize the basic rights of the streetsweepers under the employ of his office including security of tenure and grant them all the benefits under existing laws, according to Gaite.

References : Ferdinand Gaite, COURAGE President Pager: 1277-48841 COURAGE Office Tel: (63-2) 366-4162