Arrest, relief of cops for killing Binangonan labor leader sought

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Arrest, relief of cops for killing Binangonan labor leader sought
Members of different organizations hold an indignation rally against the brutal killing of veteran labor organizer Jude Thaddeus Fernandez at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Thursday, October 5, 2023.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — An alliance of workers' organizations called on the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to immediately identify, relieve and detain all cops involved in the recent killing of veteran trade union organizer Jude Thaddeus Fernandez pending an investigation.

Fernandez — a member of the progressive Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and a trade unionist since the Martial Law era — was killed in his home in Binangonan, Rizal last September 29 in an incident dubbed as an "extrajudicial killing." 

Agents of the Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) reportedly served Fernandez a search warrant but was fired shots after the latter allegedly fought back. The KMU refuted this, saying Fernandez was unarmed.

"Since they killed an innocent civilian, they [officers of the PNP-CIDG] should be immediately relieved from their positions and detained during the investigation," the Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan said in a statement, Saturday.

"Although Malacañang has already released a statement through Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin promising that it will take concrete steps to investigate the murder, workers will not believe in promises made by a regime whose hands are tainted with the blood of numerous Filipinos murdered, illegally arrested, and abducted by its police and armed forces."



Fernandez is said to be the 72nd victim of labor-related killings since 2016 and the fourth after the International Labor Organization (ILO) High Level Tripartite Mission last January 2023.

KMK claims that the killing of Ka Jude and other unionists is an attack against all Filipino workers and their rightful demand for higher wages, better working conditions, and democratic right to join and form unions.

"If the government is serious about bringing justice to Ka Jude, the PNP-CIDG should stop concocting fabricated stories to cover up the operation they carried out against the victim," KMK continued.

"In its latest statement, the PNP says that the one they killed in the operation was Oscar Dizon but family and colleagues in the labor movement say that Ka Jude is their victim. We demand that Malacañang end the continuing police intimidation and harassment, and allow the family to bring Ka Jude's remains home so they may begin their grieving process and pay their respects to him."

Malacañang promises impartial probe

Malacañang last Friday vowed for a "thorough and impartial" investigation into the killing of Fernandez, saying that they would mobilize all relevant government agencies towards the resolution of the case.

"We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Jude Thaddeus Fernandez, a veteran defender of labor rights and a dedicated trade union organizer. We also extend our condolences to the labor groups and unions whom he has helped," said Bersamin in a statement.

"These basic freedoms must be meaningfully upheld and never curtailed by any form of violence."

The executive secretary assured the public of fairness in the probe as he claimed that the Marcos administration "stands for the creation of a fair and just society for all, and guarantees the inalienability of the people’s fundamental rights and welfare."

The military, police and other government agencies such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) are known for red-tagging the KMU, lumping the latter as almost one and the same with rebels from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

Witholding of remains?

KMU alongside various groups are set to stage a protest at the Valencia Memorial Services in Binangonan, Rizal on Saturday as cops reportedly continue to withold the remains of Fernandez.

"Even with the consistent efforts of the Fernandez family and supporting labor groups, police forces continue to deny the release of the remains of slain labor organizer Jude Fernandez to his family," said KMU in a media advisory sent on Friday.

"Groups denounce this harassment. KMU demands urgent for the Marcos Jr. administration after its statement issuing a commitment to 'thoroughly and impartially investigate the matter.'"

Philstar.com earlier sought the comment of PNP spokesperson Police Col. Jean Fajardo regarding Fernandez but has yet to reply.

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