Labor leader allegedly abducted by cops, goons at gunpoint

BAGUIO CITY — A labor union leader was allegedly abducted at gunpoint and detained on Sunday for trumped-up illegal drug raps by police and armed goons believed to be working for the mayor of Capas town, Tarlac province.
Patricio Tago Jr., 33, vice president of De Luxe Bags Philippines located in Capas, Tarlac was abducted near his home Sunday morning in Barangay Talaga by six policemen and suspected armed goons working for Mayor Rey Catacutan.
Evelyn Tago, sister of the victim, said there was no buy-bust incident as claimed by police, as quoted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
Earlier Sunday, the victim reportedly prohibited the suspects from entering his home when they visited him.
Hours later, the suspects spotted Tago at a basketball court where he was taken into a private car with license plate XHL 123 and put in jail for alleged possession of illegal drugs.
Tago’s sister said this is not a drug-related incident because his brother had never been into narcotics. 
Witnesses claimed before the TUCP that those who took the labor leader were scolding the victim for joining and organizing the De Luxe employees union before he was taken inside the vehicle.
“Ang tigas kasi ng ulo mo sinabi nang wag ituloy ang unyon… nag-opisyal ka pa (You are hard-headed. You were told not to organize the union but you even became an officer),” a policeman told Tago, one of the witnesses said.
“We denounce this unlawful and violent attack on our union vice president (Patricio) Tago. We urge Mayor (Rey) Catacutan to stand down. We advise the police to disallow themselves to be used by the mayor. We do not condone this attack on union leaders whose primary job is to ensure employees’ interests. We do not understand why Mayor Catacutan is anti-union,” said Gerard Seno, national executive vice president of Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).
De Luxe Bags Philippines, with almost 3,000 workers is a manufacturer of high-end ladies' bags and accessories sold locally and abroad.
Seno said that three days before the abduction, ALU-TUCP wrote to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urging Secretary Ismael Sueno “to direct the local officials of Capas including the local mayor and barangay officials to cease and desist from interfering with the conduct of the certification election at De Luxe.”
With the recent killings and abduction of labor leaders, ALU is supporting the Nagkaisa labor coalition’s  call on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to convene the high-level labor-government-employer Tripartite Industry Peace Council (TIPC) that would draw measures to address the violent attacks on unions particularly on the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain with the management.

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