30 November 2008

Dear Friends and Partners:

On October 3, 2008, Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion was ordered arrested, along with several other known activists and personalities of people’s organizations in the Southern Tagalog region, by the Calapan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mindoro Oriental by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Tomas Leynes.

He is being maliciously charged of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder based on the amended information filed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on September 26, 2008 at the Calapan City RTC in relation to the March 3, 2006 assault on elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. The amended information substituted the “John Does” in an earlier information with names of leaders and members of militant and progressive organizations.

Manny Asuncion, 38 years old, and father of four children is a known labor organizer and activist in the province of Cavite and a member of the Workers Assistance Center’s (WAC) Board of Trustees since 2001. He was a former chairperson of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) and since 2004 sits in its Council of Leaders. He also holds the position of vice chairperson and at the same time the spokesperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) in Cavite.

As a labor activist, Manny Asuncion is one of the most ardent and outspoken critics of the No Union No Strike Policy being implemented against the militant labor movement in Cavite. He is also a prominent figure in all rallies calling for the ouster of the Arroyo government.
The WAC described the charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder against Manny Asuncion as an outrageous and blatant lie. Moreover, the charges were filed and the warrant for his arrest was issued without conducting any preliminary investigation, thus denying him of his right to a due process.

On his part, Manny Asuncion denounced the charges as fabricated and baseless adding he has never set foot in Mindoro in his life. The charges leveled against him is part of the government’s continued and intensifying campaign of persecution against militant activists through pseudo-legal means after its method of extra-judicial killing was widely condemned and exposed internationally, he said.

It is quite noticeable that out of 72 being accused of the crime, twelve (12) are involved in the militant labor movement in the Southern Tagalog region including Manny. The other maliciously charged labor activists include:

• Atty. Remigio Saladero, chief counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), arrested.

• Romeo Legaspi, chairperson of Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Alliance of Workers in Southern Tagalog-KMU) and national president of Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA-KMU)

• Jojo Bernardino, secretary general of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA, Labor Alliance in Laguna Province)

• Luz Baculo, secretary general of Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Alliance of Workers in Southern Tagalog-KMU) and national council member of KMU

• Rolando Mingo, president of Southern Tagalog Region Transport Sector Organization (STARTER)

• Lucio Amarante, staff and organizer of STARTER-PISTON

• Henry Halawig, paralegal staff of the Banzuela Law Office and former member of the Board of Directors of OLALIA-KMU

• Garizaldy Constantino, labor leader of the union of Nestle Philippines.

• Arnaldo Seminiano, member of Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM, Enlightment and Solidarity of Workers), arrested November 6, 2008

• Emmanuel Dionida, executive director of Laguna-based Labor Education Advocacy Development Research Services, Inc. (LEADERS), arrested November 13, 2008

• Agaton Bautista – organizer of sugarcane farm workers and sugar mill workers in Batangas province

Other known activists in Cavite included in the criminal charges are: Rogelio Galit who was arrested on November 3, 2008, Amelia Sto. Tomas and Sheryl Villegas.

The WAC has not yet recovered fully from the pain of losing our dear chairperson Bishop Alberto Ramento, who was killed on October 3, 2006 because of his unwavering advocacy to the cause of the poor people; and, also, from the killing of labor leaders Gerardo Cristobal and Buth Servida, who were both ambushed by unknown assassins on March 10, 2008 and December 11, 2006, respectively.

We believe that this latest attack of the Arroyo government on the labor movement and leaders of people’s organizations using the pseudo-legal means must be stopped and concertedly condemn to the strongest term. Voices of opposition from all over the world must be added to the Filipino people’s outcry over the continuing persecution of activists in the Philippines.

In this regard, we urgently appeal to all our friends and partners, civil society groups, and labor and human rights organizations to write letter and demand from the Arroyo government the following:

1. Unconditionally drop all the criminal charges against Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion and to all other labor activists and leaders of people’s organizations in Cavite;

2. Immediate and unconditional release for Atty. Remigio Saladero, Arnaldo Seminiano, Emmanuel Dioneda, Rogelio Galit, Nestor San Jose, and Crispin Zapanta.

3. Stop persecuting activists and leaders of people’s organizations.

Please address your letters to:

President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St.,
San Miguel, Manila, NCR 1005
Tel: (+63 2) 735-8005
Fax: (+63 2) 736-1010
Email: corres@op.gov.ph

Please furnish a copy the following:

Honorable Tomas Leynes
Presiding Judge
Regional Court of Justice, Branch 14
Calapan City, Oriental, Mindoro
Secretary Raul Gonzales
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura 1004 Manila, PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: agnesdeva@yahoo.com, raulgonzalez_doj@yahoo.com

Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno
Department of Interior and Local Government
Francisco Gold Condominium II, EDSA corner Mapagmahal Street
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Email Address: rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph
Phone Number: 925-0330/31
Fax: 925-0332

Hon. Leila De Lima
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chr.delima@yahoo.com, mtm_rodulfo@yahoo.com

To download:

Urgent Appeal for Manny Asuncion.pdf
Sample Letter with WAC Appeal by GoodElectronics
Sample Letter to the Philippine Government by GoodElectronics