Sunday, May 3, 2020

Labor Coalition Strongly Condemns Curtailment of Freedom of Expression on Labor Day

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition highly deplores the harassmenct of Kadamay members in Valenzuela and other arrests and detention effected by the PNP for posting protest pictures and other forms of expression on social media.

Videos and photos showing the activists in a house in Valenzuela holding slogans for an end to contractualization, for the protection of frontliners, calling for wage increase, hazard pay, and relief to the workers during the enhanced community quarantine are part of freedom of expression and right to assembly to petition government for redress of grievances which are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of the fundamental law.

The holding of the slogans while their fellow members banged metal pots in an in-house protest action are also covered by these constitutional protection.

We are aware that humans possess imperfect knowledge, hence, any attempt to curtail expression which are disliked or loathed upon by those in power should not be allowed. As we see them, the acts of these workers constitute no "clear and present danger" to any body. Neither the very survival of the government is at stake. Thus, these acts are constitutionally protected.

The ultimate good that we desire is better reached by a free exchange of ideas in what ever form it is communicated. "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market," to borrow the words of Justice Holmes in Abram vs. US.

We are gravely concerned over this growing pattern of gross violation of our freedom of expression being perpetrated by sycophantic government officials aimed at pleasing the powers that be.

On Labor Day, thousands joined a multi-form online protest organized by Nagkaisa and other labor groups. But, protesters in Marikina and Montalban who practiced social distancing while on protest were also arrested.

Earlier, security forces arrested a teacher in General Santos for her Facebook criticism on a mayor for inadequate food relief in the city.

In Cavite, the PNP and the LGU tried to use the lockdown as an excuse to prevent food and water from being delivered to the picketline of Sejung workers who are on strike. When that failed, they forcibly demolished the strike area on a Good Friday.

In Taiwan our POLO attempted to deport an OFW for criticizing Duterte. Fortunately, Taiwan rebuffed the deportation application.

The police officers who ordered or effected these arrests or demolition of picketline need to go back to refreshers' school to review the constitution and update their law enforcement knowledge.

The biggest labor Coalition in the country also calls on the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP to hold accountable its women and men in the uniform service.

The Human Rights Commission shall likewise do its own parallel investigation on this blatant disregard of the civil and political rights of citizens.

Nagkaisa Press Statement
May 3, 2020

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