KMU claims police illegally detained Coca-Cola laborers

THE KILUSYANG Mayo Uno (KMU) claimed that the 10 arrested members of the Kilusang Manggagawa ng Coca-Cola (Kimaco) are being illegally detained.

Carlo Olalo, KMU secretary-general in Southern Mindanao, said in a statement that the Talomo Police Precinct under Chief Insp. Ronald Lao detained the 10 protesting workers beyond the period provided by law.

“The 10 workers, who were brutally arrested during their protest on Monday at 9 in the morning, have been in detention for more than 48 hours without any information being filed in court,” Olalo said.

He said that “Lao’s insistence on not releasing the detained workers is a clear violation not only of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, but more importantly of the workers’ constitutional right to liberty.”

With this, KMU is currently looking into filing of charges against Lao.

KMU members staged a protest rally in front of the Talomo Police Precinct on Wednesday evening, demanding the immediate release of the detained workers.

Police claimed that the members of the Kimaco were arrested for allegedly blocking the entrance of the Coca-Cola FEMSA Plant in Barangay Bago Aplaya, Talomo District. Three criminal charges were filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office against the labor members on Monday afternoon for public disorder, grave coercion (Art. 286 of the RPC) and disobedience to a person in authority.

But the KMU said the arrested protesters never harassed any individual, obstructed the traffic, and committed illegal acts to warrant their arrest.

The group said neither the police nor the prosecutor’s office has jurisdiction over the strike because it is a labor dispute that should be under the jurisdiction of Department of Labor and Employment.

“This is a case of criminalizing the workers’ legitimate exercise of their right for redress against grievances, right to assembly and protest. The illegal arrest and continued arbitrary detention of the workers are but attempts to silence workers who are standing for their rights and fighting ENDO (end of contract,” Olalo said.

The Coca-Cola workers staged a strike Monday morning to demand the reinstatement of 70 workers who were laid off by their agency last month.

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