PNP chief orders probe on ‘harassment’ of trade union

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Philstar.com

November 4, 2021 | 4:33pm

In this file photo, protesters march to Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City to denounce the policies of President Rodrigo Duterte during his third State of the Nation Address.

Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Thursday that he has ordered an investigation into a trade union’s allegations that Quezon City police intruded into their office and harassed their staff.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines reported Wednesday that police entered their offices to ask staff questions and take photos despite not having a warrant.

Eleazar said in a statement that he has tasked the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Quezon City Police District to look into the claims made against police personnel.

“We will determine if the protocols were followed by the police officers when they went to the TUCP compound. If some protocols were not followed, we will not tolerate this and will immediately act on it,” he said partly in Filipino.

The top cop speculated that policemen who the TUCP alleged to have entered their compound, “arrogantly roamed” inside their premises, took photos of their daily attendance list and “interrogated” staff did so on their own as there was supposedly no order coming from higher police headquarters for such an operation

Other unions, too

The alleged intrusion into TUCP’s headquarters was just one of two incidents last Wednesday involving Quezon City police which labor unions condemned.

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa said police inquired about one of their affiliates, the Federation and Cooperation of Cola, Beverage and Allied Industry Unions, which is in the middle of a labor dispute with Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc.

“These have no other effect but harass trade unionists. Why should our police force waste valuable time and resources to snoop around union offices? Given important matters under police charge, surveillance of legitimate trade union work should not be in the list of their activities,” SENTRO said.

It was also not the first time that state agents came knocking on the doors of labor unions.

TUCP said this was already the fifth time that police intruded into their offices to check on staff and visitors, surveil on union activities, and take photos.

Meanwhile, Kilusang Mayo said members of unions connected with them were regularly visited these past months by agents of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial anti-communist task force to force them to disaffiliate themselves from their unions.

“We feel that the pattern to scare off legitimate labor groups is patently clear. What they are doing to TUCP is deeply alarming in this time of profiling and ideological-tagging of labor groups,” TUCP president and party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza said.

“We appeal to Duterte and his minions in the PNP to stop the attacks! You should be the ones protecting the people, but you’re the ones who are flagrantly violating the rights of workers,” KMU said in Filipino. — Xave Gregorio with a report from Franco Luna

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