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Bayan deplores harassment of Coke workers during Luzon lockdown

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Bayan Muna Party-list group has condemned the alleged harassment of workers of Coca-Cola Philippines in Laguna while Luzon remains the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to coronavirus outbreak.

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said they have been informed by labor group Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU) that uniformed men allegedly went to the homes of these workers and “coerced them to sign documents stating that they are rebel returnees.”

The alleged soldiers, according to Gaite, have been utilizing the Luzon lockdown for their underground operations and even promised the employees of Coke that they would receive cash for “surrendering.”

Gaites stressed that these operations have already been exposed as a “big money-making frauds that fill the pockets of corrupt military officers,” and further aim to malign and harass members of progressive unions and people’s organizations,”

“It is appalling that in the midst of this health crisis, the military continues to stage these disgustingly corrupt operations, and add to the anxiety, fear, and helplessness that our poor workers are already experiencing due to the lockdown,” said Gaite.

“Instead of thinking how to help in relief efforts, they push on with this syndicated surrenderee schemes to make easy money. Hindi lamang utak-pulbura, utak-kickback din itong mga military,” he added.

Last December, the Philippine Army was under fire for allegedly publishing manipulated photos of alleged rebel surrenderees.

Under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP), each rebel returnee is set to receive more than P160,000.

PAMANTIK-KMU said the operations are also meant to reverse their victories in the regularization of workers in the Coca-Cola plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“Signipikante ang naging ambag sa kilusang paggawa nang magigiting na pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa ng Coca-Cola laban sa dayuhang monoployo kapitalista at sa pagkakamit ng regular na hanapbuhay. Binali ng dalawang beses na welga ng mga manggagawang kontraktwal ang mga limitasyon ng batas na sumasagka sa pagtatamasa ng mga karapatan lalo na sa pagkakamit ng kaseguruhan sa trabaho,” the labor group’s statement read.

Gaite pledged his support for the Coca-Cola workers and said that he would seek a Congressional investigation into the incident once the House resumes its session in May.

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