Catholic prelate condemns violent dispersal of NutriAsia workers

By Leslie Ann Aquino

A Catholic prelate on Tuesday condemned the violent dispersal of NutriAsia workers in Bulacan.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo stressed that the workers have the right to protest their situation.

(Photo from Anakbayan UST's Twitter page / MANILA BULLETIN) (Photo from Anakbayan UST's Twitter page / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The workers there have a right to protest and so also their supporters because the workers have really been abused by contractualization for so many years,” he said in an interview.

“That violent dispersion should really be condemned,” added Pabillo, who is the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on the Laity.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines also condemned the bloody dispersal of workers.

“We strongly condemn the violent dispersal of NutriAsia workers' picket line!” the group said in statement posted on their Facebook page.

“For more than a month, workers of NutriAsia have been calling for regularization, just wages, and humane working conditions,” they added.

Meanwhile, the National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said the dispersal is yet another display of the fascist character of the Duterte regime.

“The workers are being sincere in their desire to negotiate and return to their jobs as regulars, but NutriAsia management is out for blood and would rather inflict violence on their own workforce than regularize them,” KMU secretary-general Jerome Adonis said.

“All this violence is a result of Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promise to end contractualization,” he added.

Atty. Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa! Coalition, also lambasted the brutal dispersal.

“A peaceful concerted action demanding the recognition of rights of workers such as what was being done by workers of NutriAsia, should never ever merit any and all kinds of violence, especially those perpetrated by the police and private security personnel," Matula said.

Based on workers' accounts, some 100 security forces, including 30 police officers violently dispersed the picket line outside the Marilao plant as protesters were holding a religious ecumenical service, Monday.

The dispersal injured a number of workers.